High-Value Segment Lead at MTN South Africa

Sethu Tshabalala is a chartered-accountant-turned-marketer in MTN’s consumer business. She currently spearheads the management of high-value products, serving over 25 million customers and generating over R10 billion annually in South Africa.

Her professional journey began as a junior lecturer at the University of Johannesburg, where she was handpicked for secondment by the School of Accountancy to teach corporate finance, marking an inspiring beginning to her career. Subsequently, Sethu left her academic role to serve as a trainee in the Energy and Natural Resources division of KPMG. Her career at KPMG culminated in her role as auditor in charge at Sibanye Platinum Resources in Rustenburg. This phase prompted her to reflect on the kind of CA(SA) she aspired to be, leading her to actively engage in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. This led her to serve on the Tswelopele committee, an internal organisation dedicated to the growth and development of over 100 black trainees at KPMG.

In a transformative career move in 2018, Sethu joined the MTN Group, becoming one of the first black females to serve as a financial analyst in the office of the vice-president for the Middle East and North Africa. Her role entailed extensive travel across Africa and the Middle East, enabling her to provide analytical insights and act as a strategic ‘fixer’ by bridging gaps within teams and facilitating the implementation of MTN strategy.

Guided by the mentorship she received at MTN, Sethu made another significant career shift in 2021, transitioning to MTN South Africa to join the Strategy team and support the company’s ambitious strategic acceleration plan. After discussions with the chief marketing officer, she found her niche in the Consumer Marketing team as a high-value leader. In this capacity, she spearheads go-to-market strategies, leveraging her financial acumen to enhance executive decision-making and harness data science for valuable insights.

In her role, she leads national revenue-generating campaigns, including MTN’s summer campaign. She also collaborates with global industry leaders such as Google and Meta (Facebook). Her exceptional contributions led the business to secure an additional R10 million in device funding from MTN’s partners in 2023. Her remarkable achievements have earned her recognition as an XtraMiler in consumer marketing at MTN.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Sethu is deeply committed to community leadership. She served as the vice-curator of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Hub and has led a team of 40 change-makers in Tshwane. In 2020, she spearheaded a financial literacy project benefiting over 100 high school students in Mamelodi. In 2022 she also successfully completed the African Leadership Initiative – Young Leaders Fellowship, which is administered by Letsema Consulting.

Sethu exemplifies what it means to be a chartered accountant of the future, leveraging her analytical aptitude to drive bold career pivots and helping organisations to thrive. Her passion for leadership drives her desire to foster technology accessibility in Africa and emphasises her commitment to advocating for diversity and inclusion everywhere she goes.