VWSA new directors Nkoane Percy Smith

New-look board as Volkswagen SA ushers in changes

The Eastern Cape-based manufacturer has unpacked a number of key changes to its leadership structures.

VWSA new directors Nkoane Percy Smith

In a recent media announcement, the Uitenhage-based VWSA said it had welcomed two new directors and one independent non-executive director in recent months.

The Nelson Mandela Bay carmaker, which is one of the largest employers in the region where it also makes significant contributions to the economy and social investment, named Thabo Nkoane as its new director of human resources.

VWSA: Bold initiatives and appointments

Effective from the beginning of June, Nkoane joined the company from AEL Mining Services and brings with him extensive experience in the mining and manufacturing sectors in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. He holds an MBL and an honours degree in industrial psychology.

Nkoane’s appointment comes amid the implementation of a number of bold initiatives undertaken by VWSA to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic head-on — both in its plants and in the greater metro area.

Along with other automotive manufacturers, such as Isuzu South Africa, in the Bay metro, Volkswagen has invested heavily in additional health and safety measures for its employees, whom returned to work when production resumed in late May.

Relief measures: Temporary medical facility

During the same month, the manufacturer announced a massive undertaking – that of converting one of its facilities — a 66 000m2 building in nearby Port Elizabeth — into a temporary medical facility to accommodate the overflow of patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The project, which was a collaboration between VWSA, the Eastern Cape Department of Health, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, saw the first phase of the project completed within seven weeks of its announcement in early May.

With funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the first phase of the project saw VWSA creating capacity for 1 485 patients including high-acuity patients who require oxygenation.

The first phase of VWSA’s temporary medical facility aimed at accommodating the overflow of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, was completed in seven weeks. Image: vwsa.co.za

According to VWSA, once the second and third phases are complete, in accordance with the Department of Health’s standard operating procedures for field hospitals, the facility could accommodate more than 3 300 beds for patients.

Putting its money where its mask is

The company, which has been vocal around the importance of testing, has also put its money where its mask is, having secured significant funds for various testing initiatives and the National Health Laboratory Service branch in Port Elizabeth, among other prgrammes to fight the disease.

Nkoane’s appointment overlaps the retirement of outgoing human resources director Percy Smith, who stepped down from the role at the end of July. Having held the position since 2008, Smith has retired following a 30-year stint “spent in service of VWSA”.

Several new directors join VWSA board

The board of management has seen several changes in recent months.

In December 2019, Rochelle Reddy took up the reins as the director for Sub-Saharan Africa, a new position that oversees Volkswagen’s interests in this region.

“Reddy has more than 15 years’ experience in international strategy development, most of which was gained in emerging African markets.”

“In March this year, the company also welcomed a new finance director, Gustavo Dozo. Prior to joining VWSA, Dozo was head of finance for Volkswagen Argentina, and he has spent over 22 years working for the Volkswagen Group. Dozo replaced Henning Jens, who returned to Germany,” said VWSA.

“The board also welcomed Reverend Nomgando Matyumza as its newest independent non-executive Board member in March 2020. Rev Matyumza has extensive management experience, having held positions with South African Breweries, Transnet Pipelines and Eskom.

“She has also served on the Boards of several other organisations, including Transnet and WBHO Ltd,” continued Volkswagen.

It said Reverend Matyumza currently serves on the boards of Standard Bank and Sasol and that she is a chartered accountant and holds B.Compt honours and LLB degrees.

Matyumza is a presiding elder and pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Decades of dedicated service

“VWSA is proud to welcome these new directors, and I am sure our business will benefit in many aspects from their knowledge and contributions,” said VWSA chairperson and managing director Thomas Schaefer.

“I also want to thank Percy Smith for his decades of dedicated service and the impact he has made in the lives of our employees. I wish him all the best for his retirement,” concluded Schaefer