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Leaders: How Ralph Mupita went from dreaming of going to the moon to becoming CEO of MTN Group Ltd

 Leaders: How Ralph Mupita went from dreaming of going to the moon to becoming CEO of MTN Group Ltd 

Like every child would, Ralph Mupita dreamt of what he wanted to become when he grew up. His was quite a lofty dream to become an astronaut and fly to the moon! However, for a young African boy growing up in an average Zimbabwean home, the chances of him fulfilling this dream were too slim. His family knew this and they didn't hesitate to tell him the truth. 

"My dream career was to go to the moon. I wanted to be an astronaut. But sometime when I was about ten or eleven years old, someone told me 'No, Africans don't go to the moon'. It was hard to listen to that person but I did and here I am today," he told Dr Nik Eberl during a YouTube interview session some years ago.

Leaders: How Ralph Mupita went from dreaming of going to the moon to becoming CEO of MTN Group Ltd

Although he could not go to the moon, Ralph never stopped dreaming big. According to him, his parents inspired him to be successful. They instilled values in him, encouraged him to always be ambitious and to dream big, and also opened his eyes to all the incredible things he could accomplish in life if he had the right education

Consequently, he put a lot of energy into his studies and excelled at school.

Academic background and early career as an engineer

Available public records show that Ralph attended the University of Cape Town where he obtained a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering. Apparently, he had relocated to neighbouring South Africa in his late teens in pursuit of education, and chose to continue living there upon graduation.

Read: Top 5 richest people in Africa and their net worth according to Bloomberg

So, after he graduated, he worked at Haw & Inglis Civil Engineering for three years between 1996 and 1999. 

By the year 2000, the then 28 year-old Ralph was ready for a career shift. He needed to transition to financial services. And to prepare himself for the next career phase, he went back to the University of Cape Town to obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Afterwards, he landed a job at Old Mutual South Africa in 2001, and would stay with the insurance firm until January 2012. During those years, he was promoted to different positions, including Strategy Director and Managing Director. 

Now, the thing about Old Mutual is that it is a large pan-African insurance and banking group with operations in 19 other countries besides South Africa. For Ralph Mupita, the company's large size meant that there was ample opportunities for career growth. So, he leveraged that and was in February 2012 appointed Chief Executive Officer to oversee Old Mutual's operations in emerging markets.

He held that position for five years until 2017. 

Joining MTN Group Ltd

In April 2017, Ralph left the financial services sector and joined telecom. But his new job description wasn't quite different from what he had been doing 16 years prior he joined MTN Group Ltd as the new Chief Financial Officer. This was the starting point for what has become a very fulfilling career with one of Africa's most valuable companies. As you may well know, MTN Group Ltd is large telecom services provider which operates in about 20 different countries across Africa and the Middle East. Being the CFO of such a large corporation is a dream most people working in finance can only have, but never accomplish. But Ralph did it. And that was not all. 

In August 2020, he was announced as the incoming Group President and Chief Executive Officer of MTN Group. He took over from former Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter.

Family Life

Ralph, who is now aged 49, is married to Makole Mupita, a chartered accountant and corporate finance professional who worked also worked at Old Mutual before establishing her own company (Mahlako A Phahla Investments (Pty) Ltd) in 2009. Ralph has attributed most of his career accomplishments to his wife, saying "Makole is a real partner for me. I probably won't be where I am today without her." 

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