Former Telkom Group chief information officer Len de Villiers has joined the JSE as acting CIO with immediate effect. He has also been appointed as advisor on IT to Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe.
De Villiers will work two weeks per month at the JSE, he told TechCentral by telephone on Friday. He replaces Tshwantsho Matsena, who resigned recently as CIO.
He joins the JSE at a critical time, as the bourse is involved in several major strategic IT projects, including a new trading platform that is scheduled for launch soon.
“I started last week and am trying to familiarise myself with the challenges,” De Villiers said. He will work with JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King to hire a permanent CIO. He plans to leave the role by December 2018.
The JSE employs about 150 people in its IT division and also works with external partners who provide contractors and part-time specialists to work on big projects.
Meanwhile, De Villiers has been brought on at Eskom by Hadebe to assist with several big projects. He is working with Eskom acting CIO Nondumiso Zibi, who was named to the position following the resignation of Sean Maritz, who had been acting as the utility’s CEO.
Maritz, who was under suspension and facing a disciplinary inquiry, resigned in March before the disciplinary could happened. It had emerged that Maritz had approved a payment to a Hong Kong company — widely seen as a kickback — after Eskom secured a R25-billion loan from the Chinese company Huarong Energy Africa, The Times reported. He had also written a letter to McKinsey & Company absolving the consulting firm from paying back R1.6-billion unlawfully paid to it and to the Gupta-linked Trillian.
De Villiers retired from Telkom at the end of May after four years with the telecommunications group.
De Villiers has a storied career in technology management, having served as CIO for several of South Africa’s top corporate entities, including three major banks. These include BP South Africa, Gencor, First National Bank, Nedbank, Absa and Transaction Capital.
“Len played a key role in establishing the Telkom Group IT function and in migrating Telkom to the new decentralised operating model that currently supports our five separate business units,” the operator’s CEO, Sipho Maseko, said in an e-mail to staff at the time of his retirement.
De Villiers continues to chair the CIO Council of South Africa, which consists of the country’s top 200 CIOs, and continues to directly mentor about 30 CIOs.
He also continues to serve on the boards of Zanaco, Moyo Business Advisory, Iemas Financial Services and Arise Investments. He is “activating” a longstanding dormant company called The CIO Recruitment Firm, which he created seven years ago. The firm will mentor, train and place CIOs into large organisations.
Listen to the podcast: Interview: Len de Villiers on being a CIO