Telco giant Safaricom picks first female CFO

Safaricom has picked the head of investor relations and planning, Ilanna Darcy, to hold the keys to the cash office on interim – moving away from a tradition of appointing a Chief finance Officers from its parent company Vodafone.

Sateesh Kamath, John Tombleson and Les Baillie had all held various postings at Vodafone before being appointed as Safaricom CFO while Christopher Tiffin worked as a financial manager at Vodacom before joining Safaricom from Celtel Nigeria.

Ms Darcy, the company’s first female CFO who replaces Mr. Kamath, joined Safaricom in 2017. She was the CFO at Digicel Group in Vanuatu and has held senior positions in retail, fast-moving consumer goods and the telecommunications sector.

Mr Kamath was appointed as the new Vodafone Business CFO where he will be reporting to the British firm Vodafone CEO Vinod Kumar, besides serving as a member of Vodafone Group Finance Leadership.

Ms Darcy is credited with delivering the Hyperion project which helped move Safaricom from manual reporting to a system-generated style of reporting and building the company’s financial planning with richer data insights.

“As head of investor relations, Ilanna has helped strengthen our position as a stock of choice among the international investment community. At the time she joined the organization, the shares were trading at Sh18.57 compared to Sh28.90 today,” Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said.

Safaricom’s appointment of Ndegwa, the first Kenyan CEO following an agreement supporting the appointment of a Kenyan as CEO , adopted at a shareholder meeting in 2017, has changed the culture of appointing senior staff at the telco.

Vodafone, however, remains influential in the business and Safaricom and it’s South African parent company Vodacom in April completed the acquisition of the M-Pesa brand from their affiliate Vodafone Group Plc in a Sh1.4 billion transaction.

Vodacom and Vodafone own a combined 40 per cent stake in the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm which pioneered the M-PESA mobile money service in the local market.

In the full year to March 2020, Safaricom posted Sh74.7 billion net profit, driven by strong growth in M-PESA and data services revenues.

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