Priscillah Mabelane: 5 Things About BP’s First Black Woman CEO

South African renowned chartered accountant Priscillah Mabelane has been appointed as the new chief executive of BP Southern Africa, a world-leading international oil and gas company.

She will be the first-ever black woman to be appointed to that role and a lot of people seem excited by the appointment. She will take the helm on September 1, exactly six years after joining the organization.

In his speech, BP Southern Africa chairperson, Thandi Orleyn, thanked outgoing chief executive, Daniel Odogwu, who was at the helm for three and a half years following his appointment in 2014 and welcomed the new CEO as well.

Mabelane’s predecessor, Odogwu, joined BP in 1989. He held a number of roles based in the UK, Belgium, Germany, South Africa, and the Netherlands.

Priscillah Mabelane’s appointment follows closely on the heels of two recent female senior executive appointments to the BP Southern Africa leadership team: Kelebogile Tseladimitlwa as human resources director Southern Africa, and Prinisha Khoosal as commercial integration manager, Southern Africa during the latter part of 2016.

In this article, you’ll get to know facts about BP Southern Africa’s new CEO and other interesting things.

Early Life

Like all truly inspirational stories, Priscillah Mabelane has come a long way from when she was younger. In a talk she gave about how to prepare for the C-suite, she revealed that she was just a simple girl coming from a small town in Limpopo who by her sheer passion, diligence and determination, has found herself excelling now.

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When she was 12 years old Priscillah was her father’s typist in his bookkeeping company which is where she said that she learnt diligence, a lesson that she has carried through all her endeavours.

Priscillah Mabelane


She joined Ernst and Young early in her career and was the first black person in their Pietermaritzburg office. Times were definitely harder then and it was a tough time to be a black woman in corporate South Africa. Two partners at the firm, however, saw her potential and took a risk and invested in her and her career growth.

Career History Prior to BP

She has held senior positions in a number of other large companies, amongst these are the CFO of Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA), tax director at Ernst & Young, and at Eskom; she held various roles in finance, tax, and general management. All this should leave no doubt that she has had a brilliant career life that would have no doubt prepared her for this new role.

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Working With BP

Priscillah Mabelane has had a truly phenomenal journey at BP which has now clocked six years. She first started out as the Chief Financial Officer of BP PLC in 2011.

Since then, she has also hit milestones as the Interim CEO/CFO BP Southern Africa in 2014, before resuming again as the Chief Financial Officer BP Southern Africa which was the role she held before being appointed Chief Executive Officer BP Southern Africa this 2017.

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New Milestone

Priscillah Mabelane is the first woman in the history of South Africa’s oil industry to head a multi-national company, and this marks a significant milestone both in her life and in the industry at large.

Quick Facts About Priscillah

  1. Mabelane formerly worked at Airports Company South Africa and Vodacom Group Limited before joining BP.
  2. Her childhood dream was to become a chartered account. Today she’s living her dream and excelling at it.
  3. Her father was a prominent business leader.
  4. She grew up in Mabocha, a small town outside Burgersfort in Limpopo.
  5. Mabelane graduated from the then-University of the North, now called the University of Limpopo. She earned a B Com accounting degree cum laude from the prestigious university. She also has an Honour’s degree which she obtained at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  6. She developed a special love for maths and accounting while growing up. Her success in the subjects led to her determination to make her mark in the business world.
  7. BP Southern Africa new CEO is a mother of two lovely girls.
  8. She’s a devout Christian and supports so many orphanages. Priscillah also enjoys spending time with her family, running and reading.
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