The Accelerate Cape Town CEO Engagements are high-level forums for CEO’s and Regional Directors of our member companies to encourage debate of topical issues impacting on Cape Town and South Africa. With a keynote speaker and often Chatham House rules, these events are deliberately kept small to foster discussion and for our CEO’s to build a network of senior business professionals in the Cape Town city region.
Improving business continuity and leadership in this unstable political environment is going to be key in building investor confidence in SA, and ensuring that the country’s credit rating does not get downgraded to ‘junk’ status. Upholding ethics within business and government and enforcing accountability will play a large role in shaping a more attractive investment environment. Accelerate Cape Town is hosting a CEO dinner engagement with Simon Susman, Chairman of Woolworths Holdings Limited, as he has been particularly vocal around these issues and will unpack the role he sees business playing with regards to the above.
About Simon Suzman
Simon Susman was born in Israel and spent his childhood in South Africa. He matriculated from St Andrew’s College and went on to the University of Cape Town where, due to “much anti-apartheid politics”, he did not obtain his degree. Simon then moved to London and worked in various positions for Marks & Spencer, eventually becoming personal assistant to Lord Sieff, the Chairman. In 1982, Simon returned to Woolworths in South Africa where he architected and built the Woolies’ Food business. He further held a number of top executive positions in the group before becoming Chief Executive in 2000.
In 2003, Simon took over the chairmanship of Woolworth’s Australian subsidiary, Country Road. Within Woolworths, Simon instigated and drove a comprehensive programme entitled the “Good Business Journey”. Through this programme, the Group continually strives to do business in a way that is deeply sustainable, both socially and environmentally. During Simon’s ten year period as CEO, the share price rose from R2.60 to over R26.00, strongly reinforcing his view that a business, deeply rooted in values and passionately delivering on sustainability, can bring real value to all stakeholders.
Simon is currently Non-Executive Chairman of the Woolworths Group and the London based, Virgin Active fitness business. He chairs the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) Advisory Board and Conservation International South Africa and is president of IGDS (Intercontinental Group of Department Stores). Simon has passionate interests in his family, his local ecosystem, bird watching, extreme fly fishing and classical music.