Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa CEO Marelise van der Westhuizen is set to retire from the firm after suffering long term ill health.
Longstanding director van der Westhuizen took a sabbatical at the beginning of this year to focus on her recovery, but on the advice of her doctors has decided not to return to work, according to a statement from the firm.
She will step down at the end of April after over 20 years at the firm, according to her LinkedIn profile.
According to sources close to the situation, van der Westhuizen was struck down badly by COVID-19 last year and that was a contributing factor to her illness.
Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa chair Andrew Robinson, who is currently acting as interim CEO, praised van der Westhuizen’s legacy.
He stated that the firm will “continue to be innovative, proactively embrace change with courage and conviction, and strive to do things better for its people and its clients,” as a result.
He added that she had embedded a culture of “efficiency, accountability, innovation and inclusivity” into the firm at every level, and had transformed the supervisory board to make it “representative of both race and gender.”
van der Westhuizen was responsible for introducing an innovative remuneration model that benefited the firm significantly and enabled it to embark on an aggressive hiring campaign, which has totaled 12 new hires since September and is ongoing, Robinson said.
He also added that she ensured the South African office was fully prepared for remote working, before the pandemic took hold.
Robinson will continue in the interim CEO role until a new CEO is elected.