Home African CEOs Profiles Mpumi Madisa’s Rise from Humble Beginnings to CEO of Multi-Billion Dollar Conglomerate, Bidvest Group 
Profiles - June 12, 2021

Mpumi Madisa’s Rise from Humble Beginnings to CEO of Multi-Billion Dollar Conglomerate, Bidvest Group 

Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Thembekile Madisa had it rough growing up, having been raised by a single mother whose earnings as a teacher made it difficult to cater for her and her three siblings. For Mpumi, there was always the looming cloud of worry over finances and whether she’ll ever make it through school.“With no money, thinking about whether you’re going to be able to get into a university or not, wondering if you’re going to be able to finish or not.” she said in a session with CNBC Africa.

Mpumi pushed forward nevertheless, attaining her primary and secondary school education at Sancta Maria Junior High and Mondeor High School respectively. This was in the middle of the apartheid violence, and she literally had to be sneaked from her area of residence  Sebokeng to the south of Johannesburg, into school on a daily basis.

Speaking fondly about growing up under her mum’s care and how it had prepared her for the corporate world, Mpumi said, “Near the end of the year my mom would bring home a register that she would unfold on the table. It had all the pupils’ marks for various tests and assignments for the year. Years later when I saw a spreadsheet for the first time I thought, ‘wait, I’ve seen this before.’” 

Mpumi went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Mathematics from Wits University Johannesburg, a B.Com honours degree in Economics and a master’s degree in Finance and Investment.

After her tertiary education, Mpumi’s journey as a leader in the business and the corporate world began with her first job as a trainee marketing assistant at Hollard Insurance. She eventually left to work as a client relations manager at Prestige, a Bidvest subsidiary specialised in cleaning.

She left Prestige three years later to join the public sector as the chief director of transformation at the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

By sheer coincidence, Mpumi was fueling her car at the filling station and met a member of the board of Prestige. She said “He asked me, ‘Have you got what you wanted to learn out there?’ And I mentioned that I was in fact looking already and have had a couple of interviews. He said I should come back and chat about where the business was, as they would like me back if I was ready.”

Read the full story (on page 86) and more exclusives like this on our latest issue below.

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