Smart Money – Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes

In this Smart Money with Alishia Seckam interview, Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes discusses Cell C’s network strategy and how this should lead to a superior customer experience.

Mendes is one of South Africa’s most respected telecommunications executives. He spent 23 years at Vodacom in various management positions and helped the company show strong growth.

He began his Vodacom tenure as the executive head for customer services in 2000 and held similar positions in Vodacom Mozambique and Vodacom Tanzania.

Mendes returned to South Africa in 2011 and held numerous executive roles locally, culminating in his appointment as Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit in 2019.

He left Vodacom in 2023 and took over the reins of Cell C in June of the same year.

Given his extensive industry experience, Mendes is well-positioned to guide Cell C to a sustainable future. He has already made significant strides towards improving its operations.

In September 2023, Daily Investor reported that Cell C achieved a higher revenue per employee than MTN, Vodacom, and Telkom.

Furthermore, despite Cell C’s challenging financial documents, Mendes has tabled a comprehensive turnaround plan focusing significantly on attracting and retaining skilled employees.

“I want to have the best corporate culture in the country. I want staff retention and not staff attrition,” said Mendes in January.

He believes that key performance indicators and metrics such as revenue, profit, and profit margin will improve due to retaining talent and having a good work environment.

The interview

In this interview, Jorge Mendes begins by discussing why he chose to move from Vodacom to Cell C.

He then discusses how Cell C’s business stabilisation efforts are going, noting that while the journey will likely take 3-5 years, his team has already achieved significant success in the first ten months.

After revealing these successes, Mendes discusses Cell C’s network strategy, which swaps the Capex cost of building its own network for the Opex model of buying world-class services from the other top networks.

He explains how this gives Cell C the flexibility to focus on commercial imperatives like delivering a superior user experience, growing its MVNO offering, and building other mutually beneficial partnerships.

He concludes the interview by discussing his vision for the future of Cell C.

Watch the interview with Jorge Mendes below.


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