Mteto Nyati has maintained an impressive scale to the helm of his career. From his days as a young applicant combing the streets of Umtata, Eastern Cape to becoming one of the most powerful telecommunications executives in South Africa.
Here’s how he began.
Nyati was born in Umtata, Eastern Cape on 21 December 1964 and had his primary education at the Tabase Junior Secondary School in Umtata, where he excelled academically before moving onto the St Patrick Mission in Libode, Eastern Cape, a Roman Catholic school – from grade 7 to grade 9. His parents were teachers. His dad had a BA Degree from Unisa and Master’s in Education from Cardiff University. His mother eventually left teaching to become a successful business woman.
From St Patrick Mission, Nyati proceeded to St John’s College in Umtata in grade 10, and completed his secondary education there in 1980, excelling in every way. He also represented his country at the International Science Olympiad in London.
Nyati started his career as an engineer intern at Afrox in Johannesburg, where he was offered an academic scholarship to study an engineering degree. From 1982 to 1985, he did a Bsc. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
He was later awarded a Rhodes scholarship to study towards a Master’s degree in engineering in Germany in 1985, but he declined on account of his mother’s ill health at the time but eventually gained his MBA from Wits University in 1992 and then returned to become a regional engineer at Afrox in the Northern Transvaal. Nyati later became a process engineer at the company’s Gases Operations Centre in Germiston.
In February 1992, the career man joined Tastic Rice as an engineering manager, where he contributed immensely to the consolidation of all Tastic Rice plants located throughout South Africa to a central location in Pietermaritzburg.
From Tastic rice, he went onto Nampak in Longdale to serve as a manufacturing consultant, and implemented several manufacturing techniques with the aim of improving the competitiveness of the company’s products in the market.
A man of many parts, Nyati found his niche in creating IT solutions when he joined IBM South Africa in September 1996; first as a client executive for the pulp and paper Industry, and then a telecommunications and media executive January 1998. A year later, he became the small and medium business executive at IBM South Africa, and in July 2001 Mteto was promoted to director of SMB Channels at IBM EMEA.
The change maker’s career scale hasn’t been without recognitions. In 2003, he was celebrated as the joint winner of the year’s IT Personality of the Year. And a year later, he was named one of the Yale University’s World Fellows on Global Leadership. In 2012, he was named the BMF Manager of the Year and a year later, he emerged the Male Business Personality of the Year in the Oliver Transformation and Empowerment Awards, which aims to celebrate South Africa’s black economic empowerment champions.
Nyati resumed position as the director of IBM Global Technology Services in January 2005, where he repositioned IBM Global Services as a key player in the South African IT services market.
After spending over a decade at IBM, Nyati took a much needed bow in August 2008 to join Microsoft South Africa as Managing Director, and that move marked the beginning of a new phase of his career. He maintained the position for more than five years, championing the improvement of educational outcomes and helping businesses of all sizes become more productive and maintain competition. His most remarkable achievement has been the launch of a scheme that will see Microsoft invest in growing small black enterprises into large global companies.
He also had a brief stint as general manager MEA Emerging Regions at Microsoft before joining MTN. He resumed at MTN as group chief enterprise officer in October 2014 and was named the 2014 IT Personality of the Year by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa.
In July 2015 Mteto Nyati became the CEO of MTN South Africa.
Focus, devotion and self-motivation formed a huge part of Nyati’s foundation. He had a vision and walked towards it without looking back. What is your vision? How far are you willing to go for it?