The South African economy is one of the largest in the world, but it’s also one of the most unequal. This means that while some people are doing extremely well, others are still struggling to make ends meet.

    This creates a huge disparity between the highest paid CEOs in South Africa and those who earn much less. These CEOs are earning millions of dollars a year, while many of their employees aren’t even making enough money to provide for their families.

    I’ve taken a look at some of these CEOs and examined how much they’re making to see if there’s any correlation between their earnings and how well their companies are doing.

    CEOs are the most important figure in a company as they carry a huge responsibility.

    According to Investopedia, a CEO is the highest-ranking executive in a company, whose role involves making major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations and resources of the company, and acting as the main point of communication.

    With a wide variety of industries, it is important to note that different sectors pay differently, and the sectors that have a lot of highly paid CEOs are the retail and banking industries.

    According to Salary Expert, an Executive Director CEO in South Africa receives an average base salary of R3,489,102 which equates to R1,677.45 per hour. On top of that, they also earn an average bonus of R2,546,696.

    It is further stated that an entry-level Executive Director CEO with 1-3 years of professional experience earns an average salary of R2,137,312.

    On the contrary, a senior-level Executive Director CEO with 8+ years of experience earns an average salary of R5,921,464. The Average Salary Survey offers a different view with a more detailed breakdown of average CEO compensation.

    Following are some of the highest-paid CEOs in South Africa:

    1. Mike Henry – BHP

    On January 1, 2020, Mike Henry was appointed as BHP’s chief executive officer. He has worked in the resources industry for more than 30 years, and he has done so in Australia, Asia, North America, and Europe.

    Before being appointed CEO, Mike oversaw BHP’s Australian Minerals division. Since joining BHP in 2003, he has held leadership positions in a variety of operational, commercial, and technical areas.

    He held the offices of President of HSE, Marketing, and Technology from 2013 to 2014 and President of Coal from 2015 to 2016.

    Since 2011, Mike has been a part of the Executive Leadership Team. Mike had worked in the resources sector in Canada, Japan, and Australia before joining BHP.

    As a CEO at BHP, Mike receives a total remuneration of R251 525 501.

    2. Alan Pullinger – FirstRand Limited

    Alan Pullinger is the CEO and Executive Director of FirstRand Limited and also serves on the boards of 10 other companies. He holds an MCom, CA(SA), and CFA and was appointed as the CEO in 2018. He formerly served as Rand Merchant Bank’s Chief Executive Officer and Director.

    His total compensation at FirstRand amounts to R57 513 000

    3. Gerrie Fourie – Capitec Bank Limited

    Gerrie Fourie is the CEO of Capitec Bank Limited. He was appointed as the CEO in January 2014. Prior to that, he was the Head of Operations. Since his reign, he has done exceptionally well for the company.

    He has led Capitec beyond retail banking into the new frontier of business banking, including a successful bid to acquire Mercantile Bank, another South African bank owned by an arm of the Portuguese government.

    Because of Covid -19’s impact, in 2021 he suffered a salary cut compared to his 2019 compensation, resulting in a drop to R49m versus R94.9m in 2019, making his salary cut to be R23m.

    He currently receives a total remuneration of R92 770 000.

    4. Mike Schmidt – African Rainbow Minerals

    Mike Schmidt has been the CEO of African Rainbow Minerals, a mining company since March 2012. He joined the company in 2007 as an executive and before that, he was working for Hartebeestfontein Gold Mining Company. Mr. Schmidt earns about R29.3m as the CEO of ARM.

    5. Stephen Saad – Aspen Pharmacare

    Mr. Saad, a South African businessman is the founder and CEO of Aspen Pharmacare. He runs the continent’s pharmaceuticals maker and has been crowned as Entrepreneur of the Year.

    He is said to be earning a basic salary of R7.2m and his overall remuneration which includes shares and bonuses amounts to R17.51m. He became a millionaire at the age of 29 when he sold his shares in the drug business Zurich for $3 million.

    In 2011 he was listed as one of Africa’s 40 richest people and in 2018 according to Forbes, he was worth US$1.09 billion, making him one of the richest men in South Africa.

    6. Bob van Dijk – Naspers

    Bob van Dijk serves as the CEO of Naspers and was appointed in April 2014.

    He joined the organization in August 2013 as CEO of the Allegro Group and was elevated to CEO of Global Transaction eCommerce in October 2013. With a focus on eBay and Schibsted, he has more than 15 years of general management expertise in the online growth industry, spanning the online marketplaces, online classifieds, and fashion divisions.

    Previously, he held the positions of vice president and general manager of eBay Germany and Europe Emerging Markets.

    Bob was an online financial products entrepreneur prior to beginning his career in general management. He began his career at McKinsey, where he concentrated on media and mergers & acquisitions. Bob holds an MBA with honors from INSEAD as well as an MSc (cum laude) in econometrics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

    In his current role, Bob earns R229 000 000, making him one of the

    7. Johan Burger – FirstRand

    Johan Petrus Burger is a South African businessman who serves as a Non-Executive Director of FirstRand which he joined in the year 1986.

    Before he was appointed as the CEO in October 2015, he held various positions such as Financial Director, CFO, and COO. His total compensation at FirstRand amounts to R63.3m


    Wow, I am motivated! To think that there are people out there who earn so much money gives me hope.

    This should be an inspiration to all of us who are still on our way up and to aspiring CEOs in South Africa that it is possible to be a millionaire, even better a billionaire.

    All that is required from each one of us is to have a dream and set attainable goals, work hard, upskill ourselves and push to climb the corporate ladder till we get to the top. Who knows, one day we can also make it to the Forbes list and be considered as one of South Africa’s highest-paid CEO.



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