Sello Rasethaba is a South African businessman and politician who has been involved in various sectors such as shipping, transport, logistics, information technology, and consulting. He is currently an executive director at Mediterranean Shipping Company, a global leader in container shipping and logistics. He is also the chairman of The Lobbying Corporation of South Africa, a firm that provides strategic advice and advocacy services to clients in the public and private sectors. He has a rich and diverse professional and academic background, as well as a history of political activism and social transformation.
Sello Rasethaba Biography and Early Life
Sello Mashao Rasethaba was born in Musina (then Messina) on 19 February 1958 in Limpopo, a province in the northern part of South Africa. He grew up in a family of six siblings, and his father was a teacher and a trade unionist. He attended Setotolwane High School, where he excelled in academics and sports. He was also active in student politics and joined the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO), a black consciousness movement that opposed the apartheid regime. He was influenced by the ideas of Steve Biko, the leader of SASO who was killed by the police in 1977.
After completing high school, Sello worked for Lebowa Transport (now Great North Transport), a bus company that operated in the former homeland of Lebowa. He resigned to serve articles of clerkship with an accounting firm (Mentzel, Rudman & Company) in Polokwane (then Pietersburg). However, his political involvement led to his arrest and detention without trial under the apartheid security laws. He spent a stint in jail at the Victor Verster Prison, where he met other political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.
Upon his release, Sello enrolled at the University of the North (now the University of Limpopo) and pursued a degree in accounting. He did not finish his academic programme because of his continued political activism and in 1982 left South Africa for the United States of America. He received a scholarship from the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organisation that supported anti-apartheid activists. He studied at the University of Northern Iowa, where he obtained a BA with a major in accounting and German as a minor subject. He also spent a summer in Austria, where he improved his German language skills.
Sello’s career has spanned across different continents and industries. He has worked for multinational corporations, consulting firms, and government agencies. He has also been involved in various business and social initiatives that aim to promote development and transformation in South Africa and beyond.
As a student at the University of Northern Iowa, Sello worked at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), a global technology company, in the software group. He was part of the team that developed and tested software products for the IBM mainframe computers. He also gained experience in the formulation, development, and implementation of information technology strategies.
After graduating from the University of Northern Iowa, Sello worked for E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont), an American chemical company, in Wilmington, Delaware. He was responsible for the financial analysis and reporting of the company’s operations in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He also participated in the development and execution of the company’s global business strategy.
In 1987, Sello left the US for the UK, where he pursued a master’s degree in philosophy (accounting) from the University of Hull. His research topic was “The role of accountants in the formulation of information technology strategies”. He also became one of the founders of the Black Resource Centre, a community organisation based in Manchester that provided support and services to black people in the UK.
Upon his return to South Africa in 1990, Sello joined Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers – PwC), a global professional services firm, as a management consultant. He advised clients in various sectors such as banking, mining, manufacturing, and telecommunications on issues such as business strategy, organisational design, change management, and information technology. He also played a key role in the transformation of the firm’s culture and practices to reflect the diversity and democracy of the new South Africa.
In 1995, Sello moved to Ernst & Young (now EY), another global professional services firm, as a regional director in the management consulting services division. He was also the national sales and marketing executive responsible for new business development. He led and managed several projects for clients in the public and private sectors, such as the South African Revenue Service, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the South African Breweries.
In 1999, Sello left Ernst & Young and founded his own consulting firm, The Lobbying Corporation of South Africa. The firm provides strategic advice and advocacy services to clients in the public and private sectors, as well as civil society organisations. The firm’s areas of expertise include policy analysis, stakeholder engagement, regulatory affairs, and corporate governance. Some of the firm’s clients include the South African National Roads Agency, the South African Post Office, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and the South African Airways.
In 2003, Sello joined Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a global leader in container shipping and logistics, as an executive director. He is responsible for the company’s operations and business development in South Africa and the rest of the continent. He is also involved in port operations and regulatory activities, and has made presentations to the Ports Regulator on Transnet National Port Authority Tariff Applications. He has also been instrumental in the establishment and growth of the MSC Foundation, a charitable organisation that supports various social and environmental causes in South Africa and abroad.
In addition to his roles at MSC and The Lobbying Corporation of South Africa, Sello also serves on the boards of several other companies and organisations. He is the chairman of Xpanse Investments, a diversified investment holding company that has interests in sectors such as mining, energy, property, and technology. He is also the managing director of OrlyFunt Holdings, a family-owned company that operates in the hospitality and tourism industry. He is also a board member of Ayo Technology Solutions, a technology company that provides solutions and services to the public and private sectors.
Sello has also been active in various business and social initiatives that aim to promote development and transformation in South Africa and beyond. He is a member of the Black Business Council, a business advocacy organisation that represents black professionals and entrepreneurs. He is also a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, the South African Institute of Directors, and the Institute of Management Consultants of South Africa. He is also a patron of the Steve Biko Foundation, a non-profit organisation that preserves and promotes the legacy of Steve Biko and the black consciousness movement.
Sello is married to Orly, a businesswoman and philanthropist who is the founder and director of OrlyFunt Holdings. They have four children: Mashao, Tsholofelo, Naledi, and Lerato. They live in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Sello is fluent in English, German, and several African languages, such as Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, and Xitsonga. He enjoys reading, travelling, golfing, and watching soccer. He is a fan of Kaizer Chiefs, a popular South African soccer club.
Sello is also a devout Christian and a member of the Rhema Bible Church, a charismatic megachurch based in Randburg, South Africa. He is involved in various church activities and ministries, such as the men’s fellowship, the outreach programme, and the leadership development programme.
Sello is one of the wealthiest and most influential businessmen in South Africa and the continent. He had a net worth of over R1 billion, according to Forbes Africa. He accumulated his wealth through his various business ventures and investments, as well as his executive and board positions in several companies and organisations.
He is also a generous donor and supporter of various charitable causes and initiatives, especially those related to education, health, and the environment. He has been ranked among the top 100 most influential Africans by New African magazine in 2022.