Don’t do just the minimum, outgoing Land Bank CEO tells black professionals

2013-11-22 16:00

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Outgoing Land Bank CEO Phakamani Hadebe has encouraged black professionals not just to work for the sake of working, but to make sure that whatever they do makes an impact on the country.

“Some of us, as black professionals, notwithstanding our challenges in the corporate world, are willing to do only the minimum expected. We can be away from work for a week or more without anyone feeling the impact,” he said.

“The current environment in our country is not encouraging. We seem to have lost focus and it is not clear where we are intending to go. While the world, especially in Africa – Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Kenya – is moving forward, we seem to be regressing,” added Hadebe.

Hadebe was honoured at a dinner hosted by the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (Absip) in Sandton last night.

He received glowing remarks from Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, who were his colleagues at the National Treasury.

“When the Land Bank kept asking for money we knew we had to send one of our own,” Kganyago said.

Kganyago also called Hadebe “one of the best policy brains this country has ever produced”.

In 2007, the Land Bank was regularly rocked by scandals surrounding financial mismanagement of the agricultural development finance institution and its board members were eventually sacked. The bank was on the brink of collapse with a large amount of impaired loans when Hadebe was sent to turn it around.

One of Hadebe’s achievements was to reduce the percentage of non-performing loans of the total gross loan book at the bank, from 23% in 2009 to 4.9% in 2013.

Hadebe has also been instrumental in stabilising and increasing the loan book and by the end of March 2013, the loan book stood at R26.5 billion.

He said when he arrived at the Land Bank, employees knew what was wrong with the bank, and he just had to make them believe they could turn it around.

Executives lost their company credit cards, a Cape Town seaside flat for the CEO that was standing empty was sold, and Hadebe chose not to use the appointed driver and flashy car set aside for the CEO. These were some of the first measures he implemented to change the culture at the bank.

“You don’t need an IQ of 145 for that, you just need common sense,” Hadebe said.

He will leave the Land Bank at the end of December.

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