What to study to become a telecoms CEO

To become the CEO of a large telecommunications company is difficult. It takes many years of hard work, in-depth knowledge of the field, and some good luck.

In most cases, becoming CEO also requires the right qualifications, and two graduate programs stand out among South Africa’s top telecoms executives – BCom and MBA degrees.

This was revealed by looking at the qualifications of the CEOs of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, Liquid Telecom, and Rain.

The list below provides an overview of the qualifications of local telecoms CEOs.

  • Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub – BCom Accounting (UNISA), MBA (University of Southern Queensland)
  • MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa – BCom (University of Swaziland), MBA (Thames Valley University)
  • Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko – Bachelor’s degree (University of Witwatersrand), LLB (University of KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Liquid Telecom CEO Reshaad Sha – IT Diploma (Technikon SA), MBA (University of Cape Town)
  • Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson – BCom Accounting (UNISA), MBA (University of the Free State)
  • Rain CEO Willem Roos – BCom Actuarial Science (University of Pretoria)

Change in telecoms CEO degrees

The current group of South Africa’s telecoms CEOs have strong finance and accounting backgrounds, but this was not always the case.

Previously, engineering degrees were by far the most popular qualification among local telecoms executives.

Prominent telecoms CEOs who came from an engineering background include former Vodacom CEOs Alan Knott-Craig and Pieter Uys.

Former MTN CEOs Phutuma Nhleko and Sifiso Dabengwa, and former Telkom CEOs Reuben September and Pinky Moholi were also engineering graduates.

The value of an MBA

While the undergraduate degrees of telecoms CEOs changed over time, the value of an MBA remains constant.

For people working in management or leadership roles, an MBA from a respected business school can open many doors.

While the price of an MBA can be prohibitive – anywhere between R200,000 and R400,000 in South Africa – companies often cover these costs.

For those looking to work their way up the corporate ladder, they will be hard-pressed to find a more powerful qualification than an MBA to assist their career.

Qualifications of South African telecoms CEOs

The image below shows the qualifications of South African telecoms CEOs.

Now read: South African IT and telecoms companies that pay the highest salaries

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What to study to become a telecoms CEO