Some people take a change of job as an opportunity to unwind and forget about work for a week or two. But then there’s the other camp, to which Reshaad Sha firmly belongs.

Sha, the SA CEO-in-waiting of Liquid Telecom, is squeezing in a two-month management course at Harvard University before he takes on the new role on June 1.

When it was announced that he had left the Remgro stable, Sha was already in the US on his professional development quest. His enrolment in the management course came shortly after he had completed his MBA, specialising in executive management, at UCT’s Graduate School of Business.

Prior to joining Liquid Telecom, Sha was an executive director and head of strategy at Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), an open-access fibreoptic company controlled by JSE-listed Remgro.

Sha joined DFA in 2013, and was simultaneously CEO of DFA subsidiary SqwidNet, an open-access Internet of Things network operator.

In announcing Sha’s resignation in early April, DFA gave him high praise, saying he had "an exemplary service record with the company".

DFA CEO Thinus Mulder credited Sha with "formalising" DFA’s product set and leading the group’s expansion into managed services. He had also established stronger public sector relationships and spearheaded DFA’s entry into fibre to the home.

At Liquid Telecom, an Econet Global subsidiary, Sha’s mandate will be to grow the group’s digital services operations and its network services for enterprises and consumers in SA.

He’s joining a company that has shown strong growth in recent years, thanks in large part to its investments in fibre connectivity and several acquisitions.

Liquid Telecom’s growth ambitions prompted the group to create the role of chief business development officer in September 2017. Willem Marais, a former SA CEO at the group, filled the role and was tasked with driving growth and entering new markets.

The company’s recent acquisitions include network operator Neotel, which it bought from Tata for R6.6bn in early 2017, and Tanzanian Internet service provider Raha. The Neotel deal gave Liquid Telecom a sizeable fibre network in SA and two more data centres.

But Neotel was taken over as a turnaround project, meaning that ongoing investments are needed to boost that unit’s growth. Liquid Telecom completed an expansion of the Neotel data centres it acquired in February 2018. The facilities are in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Liquid Telecom’s Africa Data Centres unit plans to invest further in these centres, and wants to increase capacity at the facilities five-fold over the next five years, the group has said.

To do that, and to refinance debts and also invest in network infrastructure, Liquid Telecom raised US$180m of debt funding in November 2017.

Meanwhile, Sha takes over from Kyle Whitehill, who resigned as Liquid Telecom’s SA CEO with effect from March 20. Garth Schooling, its managing executive of new business development, holds the position of interim CEO until Sha returns from the US.

Sha, who could not be reached for comment, has also held the role of director of strategy at Cisco and operations director at Lifetree Convergence, among other posts.

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