Defend Truth


A message of gratitude and congratulation to Sis’ Nompumelelo Thembekile Madisa


Bonang Mohale is the President of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor of Practice in the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) College of Business and Economics, and Chairman of both The Bidvest Group Limited and SBV Services. He is the author of the best-selling book, ‘Lift As You Rise’ and 'Behold The Turtle'! He has been included in the Reputation Poll International’s (RPI) 2023 list of the 100 Most Reputable Africans. The selection criteria are Integrity, Reputation, Transparency, Visibility and Impact.

A doctor is not who you are when you graduate but who you become when you start practising.

Of the 281 companies listed on the main and AltX boards of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Bidvest’s Sis’ Nompumelelo Thembekile Madisa is one of 18 women CEOs of JSE-listed companies, compared with 226 men. She is one of no more than three women CEOs of Top 40 companies.

Various iterations of the King Code of Good Practice and the JSE listing requirement that all listed companies must have a policy on gender at the board level, have had a positive and sustainable impact on the appointment of women to both the boards and committees of companies in general, not only listed ones. 

Credit must go to messrs Brian Joffe and Lindsay Ralphs for having laid the foundation, one brick at a time, and diligently planting the seed.

Among her achievements, and those of her team, in just three years are declaring the biggest dividend yet; surpassing R114-billion in revenue and R114-billion in trading profit; having inherited a primarily South African entity, the company is now in more than four countries (including the UK, Ireland, Australia and Singapore); the board of directors, before the appointment of morena Khumo Shuenyane, was 80% black and 73% African women, while four of the seven divisional CEOs are women. All of this under the most trying, volatile, uncertain and unpredictable market precipitated by, among other things, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine wars.

The board and leadership of Bidvest should be proud of their selection and appointment of Sis’ Nompumelelo Thembekile Madisa as group CEO. She is endowed with all the right attributes to lead Bidvest forward at a time of great ambiguity, uncertainty, unprecedented challenge and unrelenting pandemic for the company, the nation and the world. She has always performed at her fullest potential to be a fantastic leader. 

Bidvest Chief Executive Officer designate Mpumi Madisa during an interview at the company’s headquarters at Melrose Arch on March 07, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Sebokeng-born Madisa, who will take over as Bidvest CEO after the 2021 financial year, will be the only woman leading a ‘Top40’ company. (Photo by Gallo Images / Business Day / Freddy Mavunda)


After an 18-month “chief executive institute” process, she has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt her aptitude and maturity as a world-class group CEO. As a public person she has emerged as authentic, forward-looking, courageous, informed and with a genuinely strategic perspective of her business, her country and the world. Most notable have been the maturity and perspective she has brought to a number of very difficult issues. Her executive committee relationships are now strong and mutually rewarding. She benchmarked extremely well with “ready now” CEOs and as a board they were confident Bidvest would benefit from the kind of leadership, agility and full cultural alignment which we still believe she is able to practise across the whole organisation. 

She is a highly conscientious person; comfortable with making herself vulnerable as a leader and her own contribution to authenticity and presence; with the full appreciation of the power of using emotion in a mindful and intentional way; very high standards, managing and sustaining the energy needed for optimal performance; continuously learning to trust her instinctive judgement; using her position to give others their own voice, thereby relieving herself of the burden of being seen by many as a “pioneer”; and is currently hard at work consolidating key relationships which she wished to broaden and deepen. 

To ask “what is best for me” is finite thinking, but to ask “what is best for us” is infinite behaviour. One of her most important attributes is her ability to admit her mistakes. No matter how senior, educated, talented, rich or popular you believe you are, it is how you treat people that ultimately reveals your character. Integrity is everything.

Bidvest Chief Executive Officer Mpumi Madisa poses for a portrait during an interview at the company’s headquarters at Melrose Arch on March 07, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Business Day / Freddy Mavunda)

Her and her executive committee’s top leadership priorities are talent development through business rotation and cross-pollination programmes, building a more cohesive corporate culture, and the development of a clear and compelling corporate strategy to guide sustained competitiveness built around an aligned and inspiring corporate purpose and vision. 

Of course, action on all of the above has been somewhat overtaken by external shocks requiring much more expedient and sustained action to protect Bidvest shareholders and broader stakeholder interests.

Read more in Daily Maverick: There is favour in being courageous – just ask the Springboks

Congratulations and well done, nkos’yam! You and your team are a precious gift of warriors. Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. Collectively, you can do it. You inspire, enhance, motivate, encourage and make all of us, the Bidvest Family, happy! This is but an external recognition of what is already, internally, patently clear. You are winners and last evening was your day! DM


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