Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman to retire

31 July 2018

Ishmet Davidson to be appointed CEO on October 1, 2018

Media24 today announced the retirement of its CEO, Esmaré Weideman, after a career in media spanning more than three decades. She will be succeeded by Ishmet Davidson, currently CEO of Media24 Print Media, on 1 October 2018. Weideman will remain involved with the company in an advisory capacity.

Weideman has been at the helm of South Africa’s leading media company for nearly eight years, making her its longest serving CEO. Under her leadership Media24 transformed from a print-media powerhouse to a diversified media company with market-leading digital and ecommerce brands while retaining its profitable portfolio of household print brands. As editor-in-chief of Media24’s flagship weekly magazines Huisgenoot, YOU and DRUM, she was hailed as one of the best editors of her generation in Africa.

Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk, commented: “Esmaré’s passion for journalism coupled with her strong business acumen saw her transform Media24 into a digital media business while continuing to drive and optimise print operations. I’m pleased she has agreed to remain involved in an advisory capacity and wish her every success.” Regarding Weideman’s successor, he added: “I’m confident that under Ishmet’s leadership, Media24 will capitalise fully on rising mobile internet connectivity across the continent as well as on South Africa’s growing online retail sector.”

The members of the Media24 board commended Esmaré as a formidable leader who has made a significant contribution to the media landscape in South Africa and to Media24. Prof Rachel Jafta, Media24 chair, added: “I have enormous respect and appreciation for Esmaré who came into the CEO position straight from an editorial role at a time when several mega-headwinds, such as the digital revolution and changing consumer behaviour, threatened the existence of media houses everywhere. She led the change process with strong leadership and teamwork to position the company for continued growth in the digital era. Having been part of that team, Ishmet proved himself an effective and pragmatic leader, making him a natural successor.”

Weideman said she was delighted to hand over the reins to Davidson, with whom she has worked closely for the past six years. “Under Ishmet’s leadership Media24 will continue to thrive. I leave behind an extremely competent management team and some of the best editors in the country, which made the decision to retire that much easier,” she said.

Davidson joined Media24 in 2012 as head of community newspapers. He became the head of its news division in 2014, after which media distribution company On the Dot and Media24’s magazine division were added to his responsibilities. He has 16 years’ experience in the media industry and among other qualifications, holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School at Scotland’s Heriot Watt University.

Davidson said he was humbled by the confidence the Media24 board had in appointing him to lead the company. “I am very much looking forward to building on the legacy left by Esmaré. Our industry is facing numerous challenges but I have no doubt that with the support of our outstanding people and the leadership of our excellent management team, Media24 will continue to flourish.”

Weideman said she was honoured to have been asked to stay on as a mentor and advisor. “I’ve had a fantastic innings, ever since joining Die Burger as an intern in 1984. To end my career as CEO has been the cherry on the top. But this is just the end of my corporate life – my passion for journalism is stronger than ever and I hope to continue to play a meaningful role in a company which has been my home and an industry I absolutely love. For now, I am looking forward to a break, lots of reading and travelling, and spending time with my family and friends.”

Weideman’s awards include Media24’s Piet Cillié prize for excellence in journalism (2005) and Naspers’s Phil Weber Award for “sustained achievement in a career with Naspers” (2007), the group’s highest accolade.