Vodacom South Africa managing director Balesh Sharma has quit the Vodafone and Vodacom Groups with effect from 30 June 2022.

In a statement, the telco says Sharma was leaving his position to pursue an external opportunity in Europe after a two-decade-long career with the mobile operator, having held his current role as managing director since September 2020.

In order to ensure a smooth transition, Sharma, who was appointed to carve out a new standalone Vodacom South Africa entity, will remain in his role for the next three months

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub says: “I would like to offer my deepest gratitude to Balesh for his invaluable contribution in the establishment of Vodacom South Africa.

“During this time, he led the improvements in market share, net promoter scores, network, churn improvement, TOBI (digital assistant), Vodacom Business performance and also drove the winning back of data market share.

“Balesh was a strong support for various critical Vodacom projects such as the recent spectrum auction, which saw Vodacom successfully acquire a total of 110MHz high demand spectrum. We wish Balesh the very best for the next chapter of his career and will announce his successor in due course.”

Prior to his tenure as Vodacom South Africa MD, Sharma joined the Vodafone Group in India in March 2003 where he held various senior leadership roles before moving to international assignments as CEO Vodafone Malta and then CEO Vodafone Czech Republic, driving successful turnarounds in both roles.

He returned to India to help the company fight one of the industry’s most competitive environments.

In his capacity as the founding CEO of Vodafone Idea, Vodacom says Sharma managed the integration of Vodafone and Idea, delivering substantial synergies within the first-year post merger, and successfully completing a rights issue of $3.5 billion for the merged entity.

Sharma says: “This is the end of a momentous chapter in my career and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my Vodafone and Vodacom families for the extraordinary opportunities afforded to me over the last 20 years. It has been wonderful to be part of a purpose-led organisation which has allowed me to work all over the world and to forge friendships with so many diverse communities and people.”

Sharma is an alumni of the Harvard Business School and Mayo College, and holds a Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Engineering College, Kota and an MBA from Podar Institute of Management in Jaipur, India.