South Africa

How the Eskom CEO requirements changed between 2019 and 2023

Andre de Ruyter

Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said the next Eskom CEO needs to be a “good, solid, honest patriot” with the necessary business and operational skills, in an interview with 702 earlier this month – before he left Eskom with immediate effect.

The next CEO will also need to have “political nous” to cut through what De Ruyter calls the “Gwede knot” and the generally incoherent nature of reporting to multiple ministries. 

The political environment the next CEO will operate in requires being able to handle an “elevated level of complexity” as Eskom by itself is a complex business. 

This complexity is compounded by incoherent government policies and the diffusion of responsibility across numerous ministries. 

Most important among the abilities of the new CEO is the ability to operate in a “particularly challenging environment when it comes to crime and corruption”. 

Crime and corruption are endemic within Eskom and the “ecosystem in which we operate”, according to de Ruyter. 

De Ruyter would still have taken the job in 2019 knowing what he knows now, he said at the time.

What the Eskom board wants in the next CEO

Below is a comparison between what was the ideal candidate to be Eskom’s CEO in 2019 and what is required in 2023, based on Eskom’s advertisements for the position.

The most notable addition in 2023 is the requirement to “comply with Government policies”, which has led to fears that the Eskom board is looking for a pliant CEO, not necessarily the best for the job. 

Another additional requirement is that the candidate has “unquestionable integrity and ethics”, which implies that previously Eskom has not had such people as CEO. 

Graduate, preferably with a post-graduate business-related qualificationPost-graduate degree in engineering, business administration, or suitable qualification on NQF Level 8
At least 20 years experienceAt least 15-20 years senior management experience at executive committee level, ideally within emerging markets
Solid track record in leading and managing significant change in a complex organization with at least 20 000 employees and turnover in excess of R30 billionStrong commercial acumen with a successful track record in managing the strategic turnaround of a commercial entity operating within a complex environment with over 20 000 employees and turnover in excess of R50 billion
Strong commercial acumenComply with Government policies and the unbundling process currently underway
Extensive understanding of and experience in funding and management of large capital projects, strategic human capital deployment, and governance-related mattersExtensive experience in raising capital (funding) and managing large capital projects
Experience and expertise in areas of engineering, construction, and energy Experience in the energy and/or the industrial sectors would be advantageous
Experience in corporate restructurings, including balance sheet optimizationA demonstrable and sustainable track record of turning around commercially and operationallly challenged organizations 
Strong in managing complex stakeholder and media relations Experience in managing a dynamic and robust stakeholder environment 
Undergraduate degree with an MBA, or other relevant post-graduate degrees, will be an advantage 
A solid track record in mitigating systemic risks and pro-actively managing crises
A leader with unquestionable integrity and ethics
A solid understanding of global trends within the energy sector and their applicability to local market conditions 


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