What to study to become a telecoms CEO

A quick survey of the CEOs of South Africa’s top telecommunications operators over the last few years revealed that most of them studied engineering.

In the business world a degree is no guarantee of success, or even a job. However, it does not hurt to have a tertiary qualification to back up experience and hard work.

According to a survey of 17 telecoms CEOs from Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, Neotel, and iBurst, the following trends emerged:

  • 11 CEOs are qualified engineers
  • 9 did an MBA or similar post-graduate qualification

The following table provides an overview of the qualifications of recent telecoms CEOs in South Africa.

Undergraduate degree
Field of study Number of CEOs (out of 17)
Engineering (B.Sc. Eng) 11
Commerce (B.Com, CA) 3
Law (LLB) 1
Science (B.Sc.) 1
Humanities (B.A.) 0
Postgraduate business degree
MBA or MBL 9

The following infographic shows the qualifications of past and present telecommunication heads. It should be noted that different engineering degrees were all listed as B.Sc. Engineering for simplicity.

CEO Degrees
CEO Degrees

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What to study to become a telecoms CEO