Serame Taukobong’s incredible rise to the top

Telkom recently announced the appointment of Serame Taukobong as Group CEO designate, confirming that he will take the reins from Sipho Maseko when he steps down in June 2022.

Taukobong is one of South Africa’s most respected telecommunications executives and was a logical choice for the top job at Telkom.

Commenting on the appointment, Telkom chairperson Sello Moloko said Taukobong is a seasoned ICT executive who will ensure continuity of their value unlock strategy.

To understand how Serame Taukobong became one of the country’s top telecoms executives, it is important to look at his early career.

Taukobong was born on 23 May 1970 at the Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.

He attended Molalatladi Lower primary school in Soweto, Marist Brothers Sacred Heart, and Marist Brothers St Henry’s in Durban.

After finishing matric, he studied at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he completed a BSc degree in chemistry.

Later in his career, Taukobong also completed executive management courses at IMD in Switzerland, GIBS, INSEAD in Singapore, and the Wharton School of Business.

University of Cape Town
University of Cape Town

His first job was as a lab assistant at the Genref Refinery in Durban, where he earned R750 per month.

A pivotal moment in his career was when his lab supervisor told him he was wasted in a lab and should go to a commercial function.

He decided to join Lever Brothers, now known as Unilever, as a marketing assistant. This career move set him on a path to the top.

After rapidly moving up the ranks at Lever Brothers, he moved to SAB where, as marketing manager, he helped to build some of the strongest beer brands in South Africa.

M-Net appointed Taukobong as chief marketing officer before he decided to move into telecommunications.

In 2004 he was appointed as MTN Uganda’s chief operations officer where he helped to significantly grow the company’s market share. He then moved to MTN Irancell in 2006, where he served as sales and distribution executive.

In 2009, Taukobong was named MTN South Africa’s new Chief Marketing Officer, where he was behind the highly successful “Ayoba” 2010 FIFA World Cup sponsorship campaign.

Taukobong won numerous awards during his tenure at MTN South Africa, including the Sunday Times Marketer of the Year in 2010 and 2012.

MTN Ayoba
MTN Ayoba – image credit: warrenski

In 2013, Taukobong became the new CEO of MTN Ghana. His excellent performance saw him win the Ghana CEO of the Year award in 2014.

General Electric convinced Taukobong to join the company as leader for Sub-Saharan Africa and head of transformation in South Africa in 2015.

However, it was not long before he returned to telecommunications.

Telkom appointed Taukobong as chief executive officer for Telkom Consumer in 2018. Under his leadership, Telkom’s mobile business grew by more than 300%.

Telkom is now the third-largest mobile operator in South Africa, with over 15 million subscribers.

He oversaw exceptional financial results in 2020/21 despite difficult operational circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Telkom’s mobile data revenue grew 41%, broadband traffic increased by 53.2%, and mobile broadband subscribers increased 25.6%.

It is easy to see why analysts welcomed Taukobong’s appointment as the new Telkom chief executive.

It guarantees continuity at Telkom and ensures that the company’s all-important mobile operations are in good hands.

Now read: New Telkom CEO announced

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Serame Taukobong’s incredible rise to the top