Telkom CEO: broadband plans and management challenges

Telkom CEO Nombulelo (Pinky) Moholi took the reins at Telkom on 1 April 2011, and twelve months later, the company is still in trouble with poor financial results and a falling share price.

While the buck stops with Moholi as CEO, many people feel that she is the right person for the job and that she inherited most of the problems which she has to resolve. These problems included Multi-Links and iWayAfrica, sliding fixed-line numbers, some under-performing management members and losing market share to the mobile operators.

Others are less complimentary towards Moholi.

Hlelo Giyose, chief investment officer at First Avenue Investment Management, said that an international executive with experience in a changing telecoms landscape would have been a better choice as Telkom CEO.

The best people to speak to when it comes to a company’s CEO may be the employees, but even here the views are varied.

One Telkom executive told MyBroadband that Moholi is respected in the company and is a knowledgeable leader. He added that many employees are backing her to make bold decisions to get Telkom back to the top.

According to the Telkom executive Moholi is however stuck with a few ‘difficult’ management members who are basically impossible to remove. “She needs to clean out the top and appoint her own team,” he said.

“The MSAN deployment will be her legacy and with better fixed line broadband access and a more customer focused group of employees. If she gets rid of the negative workers, dead wood and slackers, we will support her 100%,” he said.

Another Telkom manager however feels that the appointment may have been politically motivated, and that Moholi will have to show that she has what it takes to turn the company around.

He said that her performance to date has not been particularly good, notwithstanding the problems which she has inherited.

Pinky Moholi
Pinky Moholi - Telkom CEO

Moholi’s plans of boosting their broadband services, delivering on their mobile investment and upgrading their network seem sound, but good execution will be an important to boost the company.

Irnest Kaplan, MD at Kaplan Equity Analysts, said that “if you don’t have people that are able to execute on all these things, and you can’t sort out the people issues – which I think Telkom’s had a challenge with in the past – then I don’t think it’s going to be so easy to execute on all those things.”

David Shapiro, deputy chairman at Sasfin Securities, agreed with Kaplan. “They’ve got to start delivering. We are waiting for those efficiencies to come through and all those promises,” said Shapiro.

Spiwe Chireka, program manager for telecoms at market intelligence and advisory firm IDC, feels that Moholi can do better to tell people about Telkom’s plans

“The last major thing I remember was when they launched Telkom Mobile Enterprise at the end of last year. It would be important for Telkom to communicate what their plans are, if any to address the crisis with Telkom shares and the rest,” said Chireka.

“A regular status update here and there would definitely give the industry hope regarding the future and turnaround of Telkom.”

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Telkom CEO: broadband plans and management challenges