It seems a little like last week’s news given how it was leaked, but the Sharks have now officially announced the appointment of John Smit as their new CEO.
Smit’s tenure is effective 1st July 2013, when he will take over from current CEO, Brian van Zyl, who will mentor Smit until his pre-agreed retirement date of 28th February 2014.
Having joined The Sharks on the 1st February 1994, Van Zyl will have served The Sharks with distinction for 20 years. He has worked tirelessly to ensure that The Sharks have become not only one of the most financially sound unions but also a sporting brand of international acclaim.
Stephen Saad, the Chairman of The Sharks Board of Directors, says, “On behalf of the Board of The Sharks (Pty) Ltd, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brian for his invaluable contribution to The Sharks. His knowledge, experience and understanding of the game and its administration is outstanding. We salute him for the many years of dedication, commitment and service that he has given, not only to The Sharks, but to rugby in South Africa.
“John Smit’s appointment marks the dawn of a new and exciting era at The Sharks,” said Saad. We look forward to welcoming the favourite son of South African Rugby to his new role as CEO. We pledge our support and commitment to him and have every confidence that he will embrace his new role, with the same leadership, spirit and vigour that he displayed as the most capped Springbok captain and player of all time.”
Having spent thirteen years of his professional career with The Sharks, Smit makes a return to a province that he loves and where it all began for him. He has become the most decorated rugby player in South African history and his achievements both on and off the field are well documented.
When he takes up his new position, John will inherit an experienced management support team at The Sharks, who will offer him guidance and advice as he settles into his new position.
To this end, Leigh Heard who has spent 21 years with The Sharks (Pty) Ltd as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will assume the responsibility of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Leigh’s role will include both financial and commercial functions and will help provide continuity and preserve the corporate memory of the successful Sharks management team.
The Sharks Head Coach, John Plumtree has stated, “On behalf of team management and the players, I extend our congratulations to John on his appointment. Over the years, many of us have shared special memories with John and we look forward to working with and supporting him in his new capacity.”
The Sharks current CEO, Brian van Zyl said, “I wish to congratulate John on his appointment and wish him the very best in his new role. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board of The Sharks and my staff for their assistance and support over the years. I have a few months to go before retirement and will use this time to ensure that the black and white baton is securely placed in John’s hands and so contribute to the successful Sharks legacy. I leave a proud man.”