Most CEOs carry the fate of their employees and shareholders on their shoulders. But Ronald Mangani, as CEO of Press Corporation, carries the fate of an entire country.
Press Corporation, the largest conglomerate in Malawi, holds key stakes in some of the south-eastern African nation’s most critical industries – telecommunications, steel, petroleum, ethanol and even the country’s national bank.
Fortunately, there is hardly anyone in Malawi better suited to the task than Mangani. He previously served as Secretary to The Treasury of the Malawi Government from 2014 to 2017, and he has held visiting scholar positions at the International Monetary Fund Institute and the University of Oxford, among other leadership roles.
“Our strength is in the unity of the Group – being able to capitalize on the synergies that will arise from the fact that we are a heavily diversified holding company.”
Mangani’s vast experience also spans the boardroom with a history not limited to serving as an independent director on the boards of the Reserve Bank of Malawi, Malawi Stock Exchange, Malawi Development Corporation and Malawi Institute of Management. He has also sat on the Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank of Malawi and is a founding member of the Economics Association of Malawi.
Since taking over as CEO of Press Corporation in early 2023, Mangani has marshaled his vast scholarship in economics and his leadership experience in the world of finance to guide the Malawi Stock Exchange-listed company into a new era of growth, synergy and sustainability.
“I am very keen to ensure that we put in place the necessary and sufficient conditions alongside a framework that will ensure that the process of re-entrenching ourselves as the key private sector player takes place,” Mangani tells The CEO Magazine.
Investing in Synergy
Mangani’s leadership and fresh vision come at a critical time for Press Corporation. Over the past few years, the conglomerate has divested from several holdings in order to consolidate its capital and streamline its operations.
“We have taken a dip over time, but out there the expectations are very high that we should reestablish our prominent position in this economy,” he says.
To meet these expectations, Mangani intends to exercise care when it comes to placing Press Corporation’s investments. “Our strategy must be the key guide to ensuring that we put our money where it is going to earn the greatest return,” he says.
One thing he will not sacrifice, however, is diversification, which he sees as one of Press Corporation’s defining attributes.
“Our strength is in the unity of the Group – being able to capitalize on the synergies that will arise from the fact that we are a heavily diversified holding company,” he says.
This means that all of the companies that fall under the Press Corporation umbrella will be able to support one another’s growth.
“We don’t see why our mobile network operator should not be the service provider in mobile network operations to the rest of the Group,” he says. “We don’t see why our financial services provider should not be the first point of call in demand for financial services by the rest of the players in the Group – within acceptable regulatory provisions.”
Mangani envisions a perfectly synced network in which Press Corporation’s subsidiaries provide energy, fiber network services and even marketing to one another, ensuring that the advantage of being under a single holding company is fully maximized.
“We’re looking at a situation where we can generate demand for one another’s products and, thereby, generate a market for one another’s products within the Group,” he says.
Strengthening Human Resources
In addition to investing in the right companies, Mangani is also prioritizing investments into the right people, ensuring that Press Corporation’s workforce can work together to make the right decisions that will promote the company’s growth.
“People are our driving force,” he says. “We are strengthening our human resource management function to ensure that we are able to identify areas where training can be conducted jointly.”
“People are our driving force.”
Investing in people also includes ensuring that staff turnover causes the least amount of disruption possible to Press Corporation’s businesses.
“We cannot sustain our performance unless we have a very good succession plan,” he says. “A good succession plan always depends on our ability to ensure that there is a pipeline of managers and other workers that are actually in the system to be able to take over when others leave.”
Beyond simply being effective at their jobs, Mangani aims to equip employees with the knowledge they need to fortify the reputation of Press Corporation and its subsidiaries as forces for positive change in Malawi.
“In terms of a positive corporate culture, we are looking at an environment where we meet, as leadership within the Group, as frequently as we can to ensure that the common values we hold are known to all,” he says.
“And these values are transmitted to all our workers to ensure that we’re an ethical company, promoting integrity and doing the right thing.”