Agri SA is on the hunt for new CEO

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Agri SA has started the hunt for its next CEO in anticipation of Christo van der Rheede’s retirement at the end of February 2024.

Jaco Minnaar, president of Agri SA, says the organisation’s official policy is that employees may retire between the ages of 60 and 63, and Van der Rheede has indicated that he would like to retire at the age of 60. “We’ve decided to start with the search sooner rather than later to ensure that a suitable candidate can be identified as early as possible.”

Van der Rheede joined the Agri SA team as its deputy executive director in 2015 and was appointed as the organisation’s first CEO of colour in September 2020. “It was indeed an honour to serve the agricultural sector over the past seven years in various positions,” he said.

Minnaar said Van der Rheede will be utilised in a new role within Agri SA while supporting the new Agri SA CEO until the completion of his tenure.

Read more about Agri SA’s participation on the Presidential Climate Commission here.

The ideal candidate

The Agri SA selection committee as well as Signium Africa, an executive recruitment company, have already started working together in the search for a new CEO and call on the public to nominate suitable candidates.

“We are entering an era where co-operation is becoming increasingly important,” Minnaar told AgriOrbit. The new CEO will not only be a strong leader, but internally he or she will also be able to work closely with producer members, and externally be the person the entire agricultural sector at large will work with. The person should also be able to skilfully influence governmental strategies.

“With government’s declining ability to provide civil services to farmers, it is also very important that the person be a visionary who is able to come up with sensible solutions.”

The official list of requirements for the ideal candidate is as follows:

  • A master’s degree in political administration and public leadership, business administration (MBA), or agricultural economics. Other re relevant qualifications will also be considered.
  • Eight to ten years’ experience at senior management and board level.
  • Proven career history in various leadership as well as strategic and decision-making positions at corporate and operational level.
  • Agricultural sector knowledge and experience.
  • A thorough knowledge of and experience in government systems and processes, as well as the economy and agricultural economy, including their international dimensions.
  • The ability to identify the political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal trends relevant to the agricultural sector, and to determine the most appropriate strategic direction for Agri SA to mitigate any risks emanating from these trends.
  • The ability to view strategic policy options holistically and convert them into results by way of good process management.
  • The ability to interact with his/her peers in the industry as well as higher-ranking people in society.
  • The capacity to effectively negotiate and address conflicts while exhibiting openness and receptiveness.
  • The ability to maintain good media relations and identify critical issues affecting the agricultural industry, and to communicate the implications of such in the print, visual and social media on a weekly basis and to use it as a mechanism to lobby government, change public perceptions in favour of the agricultural sector and inform and grow public awareness of Agri SA.
  • Fluency in English and Afrikaans.

Read more about Agri SA’s report on the state of South African roads here.

Nominations are welcome

Agri SA and Signium Africa said in a press release that they wished to develop as broad and deep a pool of candidates as possible. Therefore, in addition to soliciting applications through internal and external advertising and identifying potential candidates through the search firm’s research processes, members of the public are encouraged to nominate suitable individuals.

The organisations, however, discourage members of the public from directly approaching individuals they wished to nominate, as this could create undue expectations on their part. It will be up to Signium Africa to approach all individuals whose names are submitted through this process, to secure their interest in the position, and then assess their suitability, benchmarking them against the agreed-upon specification and deciding whether to put them forward for consideration by the selection committee.

Nominations can be submitted directly to Signium Africa by close of business on Monday 13 March 2023, stating the individual’s name, current or last known position and employer, as well as wherever possible their contact details and a brief background.

Send nominations to For more information, call 011 771 4800 or 082 338 2646. – Susan Marais, AgriOrbit

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