First black female CEO for BP

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Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Cape Town – Perhaps it is in the spirit of transformation and employment equity that Bp Southern Africa (Bpsa) appointed Priscillah Mabelane, a chartered accountant, as its first black female chief executive officer.  

Mabelane becomes the first woman in the history of South Africa’s oil industry to head a multi-national company.

An analyst attested this week, “This marks a significant milestone in the organisation and the industry’s transformation journey.”

Before her appointment, Mabelane was chief financial officer of the British oil and gas giant after she joined the group six years ago.

She will take the helm as CEO on September 1.

BPSA said Mabelane has more than 20 years of service in a number of key leadership positions. She brings a “wealth of world-class experience and expertise” to her new role as chief executive.

Prior to joining BP, Mabelane held various executive roles in a number of large South African companies.

She worked at Airports Company of South Africa as the chief financial officer; Ernst & Young where she was a tax director, and at Eskom where she held various roles in finance, tax and general management.

BPSA chairperson Thandi Orleyn thanked the outgoing chief executive, Daniel Odogwu, who was at the helm for three-and-a-half years and welcomed Mabelane.

“Given her proven track record in her previous executive roles, we are confident that Priscillah will be a strong leader for our business, especially as we continue to explore new areas of growth and development,” Orleyn said.

“Priscillah’s appointment reinforces BPSA’s pioneering role and strength of commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce that will breed creativity and ensure we meet, even exceed customer expectations.”

Mabelane’s appointment follows closely on the heels of two recent female senior executive appointments to the BPSA leadership team – Kelebogile Tseladimitlwa as human resources director Southern Africa, and Prinisha Khoosal as commercial integration manager, Southern Africa, during the latter part of 2016.

The road to becoming the first black female CEO for BP Southern Africa started sometime back for Mabalane. 

She had to overcome adversity along the way from attending a primary school under a tree in Burgersfor.

“I didn’t have a 20-year plan, but I am ambitious, and I knew I wanted to end up in the C-suite,” said Mabalane.

BPSA is a subsidiary of the BP Group - the multinational giant that employs more than 1,000 people and has 500 service stations in SA.

It also has 45 percent of a commercial and industrial fuels marketing business with Masana Petroleum Solutions. This includes a joint shareholding with Shell SA in the country’s largest fuel refinery, Sapref.

Mabelane started her career at Ernst & Young.  She was the only black woman in the Pietermaritzburg office. 

This came after she completed her studies at the University of the North (now the University of Limpopo) and the University of KwaZulu Natal.

 

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