Who is Hemmanth (Herman) Singh - CEO
A more detailed view of Herman
Herman is an innovative business thinker and a high impact player having delivered significant business value in the executive roles that he has operated in. He has an unusual mix of Business, Technology, Leadership and Creative skills that positions him uniquely for roles to lead the march to the new Digital Economy. He is pragmatic and strategic and is both solution focussed and customer centric. A naturally innovative thinker he has led and guided many disruptive businesses in the ongoing convergence of Technology and Business for over 20 years. He is an intuitive strategic thinker, facilitator and advisor and integrates well with cross functional and ethnically diverse teams. As a great and motivational public speaker, Herman is in high demand for conferences and often acts as a keynote speaker for internal company strategy events.
Herman graduated with a Degree in Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand in 1980 and then obtained a Post Graduate qualification in Industrial Engineering three years later and a MBA 7 years after that when he graduated with Distinction and on the Dean’s List. He has published a text book co-authored with his colleagues at Wits Business School (one of the top business schools in Africa) that is now into its third edition. Herman served as external examiner and facilitator on Wits Business School’s MBA, Non-degree and in-company programmes for 13 years. He continues to serve as adjunct faculty at Duke University in Durham, Raleigh, North Carolina and at The Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg. He has worked, facilitated and spoken around the world and has served on over a dozen boards during his career. He was previously the Chairman of the Solution Space which is an Incubation Laboratory at the University of Cape Town funded by the MTN group (the largest Network in Africa and the Middle East).
Herman commenced his Career in the early 80’s in the manufacturing sector in Johannesburg and moved to Consulting and Advisory work in 1994 at Monitor Consulting before taking a senior leadership role as Managing Director in the Siemens Company in 1996 to lead a large scale turn-around of the Industry Division responsible for Sub-Saharan Africa (13 countries) between 1996 and 2000. During this time he was pivotal in restructuring divisions of over 1000 technical staff involved in product sales and distribution, large project execution and after sales services and thereby delivering double digit growth in revenues and profits and rescuing the business from closure. The business continues to operate successfully over 15 years after his departure.
He then pivoted to the emerging world of e-commerce and joined Standard Bank in 2000 as the Director of Online Services and e-commerce. He lead the banks foray into Internet Banking deploying one of the first platforms in the world, one of the world’s first national rollouts of smart cards and continued to pioneer Fintech innovations with mobile banking JV’s in 2003 (one of the first globally) and operated one of the first African Fintech business incubators for the Group for 5 years from 2007 until 2012. This entity developed a number of very successful businesses in the space of money transfer, value added mobile services and digitalisation of legacy processes. One business went on to record business volumes of 2 Billion Dollars in transactional flow and is the number two player in its field in Africa. He also joined the board of Eccentric Switch, a payments processor that he was instrumental in investing in for the bank.
In 2012 Herman moved into the telecommunications space in a more dedicated manner firstly with a role at Vodafone as Managing Executive of mobile Commerce at the sub Saharan subsidiary where he successfully launched and managed both a short term insurance business and a life assurance business reaching a Billion Rands in revenue within 4 years of start-up. He also set up a subsidiary to launch the largest mobile vouchering app in the region which resulted in two million downloads in a year and was the fastest growing app for that year. He then moved to MTN in 2015 where he served in the role of Group Chief Digital Officer. This role carried a Profit and Loss responsibility of over a Billion Dollars and thanks to new innovation and change programmes is growing at close to 2X per annum in Local Currency. The role includes four pillars in e-commerce / mobile advertising, mobile financial services, media and digital lifestyle products and services. He currently serves as the Group Executive for Innovation Strategy leading the Groups Digital approach into new business areas by focusing on Ideation, Incubation, acceleration and M and A. This broad portfolio of adjacent businesses has necessitated extensive travel and serving on 7 boards as well as serving in advisory capacities in multiple industry level initiatives.
Herman has served on over 10 boards and board committees in his career and has chaired a number of them. His recent Board obligations are detailed below:
- MTN Cameroon: A telecommunications firm Based in country. Herman has served as a non-executive board director for the last two years.
- MTN Ivory Coast: A telecommunications firm Based in country. Herman has served as a non-executive board director for the last two years. He also serves on the Remuneration Board sub-committee.
- aYo: A Johannesburg based digital Insure-tech firm. Herman is serving as Chairman of this board for the second year and has been on the board for three years.
- Africa Internet Group. A Berlin based multi sector e-Commerce business that is operating in over 20 African countries. Herman serves on both the advisory board and the Audit and Risk committee and has done so for three years. The firm has already attained a valuation of over a Billion Dollars in the last funding round.
- Middle East Internet Group: A Dubai based multi sector ecommerce firm operating in three GCC countries. Herman serves on both the advisory board and the Audit and Risk committee and has done so for three years. The firm is close to achieving a Billion dollars in its last funding round.
- Iran Internet Group: A Dubai based multi sector ecommerce firm operating in Iran. Herman serves on both the advisory board and the Audit and Risk committee and has done so for three years.
- GSMA Strategy officer group: London based. Herman has been a member of this group representing MTN for three years.
In his personal capacity Herman is investing in and serving as Board chairman of Intergrateme, a R200Mn digital start up in the Regtech space in South Africa.
Herman developed three distinct capabilities in the Digital World:
- Creating digital means for customers to interact with the firm via new channels and devices
- Digitising the internal processes of the firm
- Creating digitised products and services and disruptive business models
Herman for over 20 years has accordingly led technical teams that were involved in those three areas in order to deliver new business development, change and largescale IT developments as well as tactical IT start-up initiatives. He has made extensive use of the Agile and Scrum methodologies in executing bold and accelerated IT projects very successfully in this time including the launch of a new Insurance company within a year into 6 countries in sub-Saharan Africa in a JV between MTN and MMI (The largest Insurance Group in Africa and the Middle East)
Herman has been in Director level positions since 1989 and currently serves in this advisory capacity at over 10 entities including serving as a member of the GSMA Chief Strategy Officers Group. He is accordingly comfortable to operate at senior levels while still engaging daily with rapid application development teams across multiple verticals. During his time at the Bank he also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a period of 3 years leading the Planning function in IT to set the strategy and road map for a Technology team of over 4000 staff.
Herman is an avid cyclist both on road and off-road and completes over 3000 kilometres of riding a year. His first passion is his family and he is married with four children. He reads extensively in the fields of business innovation and science fiction and contributes extensively as a thought leader at multiple forums including having more than 20 000 followers on LinkedIn and publishing one of the most widely used text books namely, Operations Management, in the field in the region.
Who is Nicolette Singh - CMO
A more detailed view of Nicolette
Nicolette has vast experience in the Marketing, Branding and Strategy fields. She has worked across multiple industries and is experienced in digital marketing and innovation. Her career and studies have given her broad exposure to the business world in a variety of roles.
Nicolette Singh (neé Opperman) has over 20 years of professional work experience in mainly B2B companies with specialization in Services and Technology Marketing, Digital and Social marketing, Branding and Strategy. She has consistently maintained a position of Top 10 student through all her years of study including a MBA from Wits University (2006), MCom Marketing (CUM LAUDE) at University of Pretoria (2003), BCom Honours in Marketing (CUM LAUDE) at University of Pretoria (2000) as well as her BCom Marketing degree at the University of Pretoria (1998). She completed an Executive Leadership Network programme at GIBS (Gordon Institute of Business) and an Economic Development course from Harvard University. Nicolette was selected as a Rotary exchange student to the UK in 2003.
Most recently she was a representative of the CMO Advisory Council of MEA (Middle East Africa). Previous roles include founder of Seriti Group – a NGO focused on job creation and economic development. Marketing Lead for Avanade International (a Joint Venture between Microsoft and Accenture). She was also the CMO for iSPartners and Karabina overseeing all Strategy, Marketing and Branding responsibilities for all group entities and brands. As the Group Manager of Marketing and Sales at the listed company Zaptronix her role also included Investor Relationship management. She held the position of COO at Proudly South African 2006/7 and was part of the Intergovernmental implementation team for the 2010 Soccer World Cup held in South Africa. Nicolette was also the General Manager and Senior Strategist at Yellowwood Brand Architects. A role that exposed her to clients from various industries such as:
Financial Services: MortgageSA, Pick ’n Pay Go Banking, Glenrand MIB, Nedbank, Fidentia, Sanlam, Discovery Life. FMCG: SABMiller, Revlon, Pieman’s Pantry, Zendegis, Senteeko, Coca-Cola, brandhouse. Wellness: Planet Fitness; Zendegis Telecommunication: Cell C, Vodacom. Industrial/ Manufacturing: Smart Stone; Consol. Automotive / energy: Alfa Romeo, BP, Uhambo, Sasol. Leisure/ Tourism: Southern Sun, Seekers/Amex Travel, Singita, ICTA, SAB World of Beer. Property: Melrose Arch, Residential Golf Developments. IT/ Office automation: Tiscali, Gestetner, Ince. Media: SABC, DSTV. Retail: Exclusive Books, Nu Metro, Wimpy, House & Home. Agencies: TBWA, Red Nail, GRID, DWF, Mr Carraway. Education: GIBS. Resources: Goldfields, Impala Platinum. Public Sector: the dti, COTII agencies, Blue Catalyst, Department of Communications, Department of Economic Development. Entrepreneurship: Timbali. Fashion: Hurley International. Cause related: SANBS, Topsy Foundation, Proudly South African
Nicolette managed CRM, Internet, Intranet and various strategic projects in her roles of Marketing and IT manager at Standard Corporate and Investment Bank from 1999 to 2003. She has contributed to a number of publications and articles on the subject of the CIMO, personalization and marketing topics.
Nicolette has fulfilled the roles of Business Analyst and Project Manager during her career in IT with all the various methodologies and tools required to get the job done effectively. Her exposure to database management and CRM has assisted her throughout her career. She was also responsible for Internet and Intranet projects at multiple institutions as the business owner and sponsor.
Travel would be high on the list. Nicolette is married with two children. Their active family life ensures ‘memories’ are actively created and cherished. Art, reading, bootcamp, cycling, the outdoors and ongoing studies complete the list.
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