Resignation of the O&L Group CEO, Wessie van der Westhuizen, and Chief Culture Officer, Sonja Thieme


It is with profound reverence, gratitude, and deep understanding that the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group announces the forthcoming resignation of its beloved Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wessie van der Westhuizen, and Chief Culture Officer (CCO), Sonja Thieme, effective 30 April 2024.

In an internal communication shared by Sven Thieme, the Executive Chairman of the O&L Group, it was disclosed that Wessie and Sonja have elected to relinquish their leadership positions. Wessie and Sonja conveyed their heartfelt decision, expressing appreciation for the company’s understanding and support throughout a deeply challenging period in their personal lives spanning the past four and a half years. This period was compounded by the profound loss of their only son, Beau van der Westhuizen, in November 2022, following a courageous battle with cancer.

Wessie and Sonja, a remarkable couple who have left an indelible mark on the O&L Group’s legacy, have navigated their personal grief with immense strength and resilience. Their resolute and valued commitment to the company amidst their own heartache has been nothing short of inspirational. Sven Thieme expressed, “The decision made by Wessie and Sonja to resign was reached with the utmost care and consideration. Their dedication to the O&L Group has been steadfast, even in the face of unimaginable personal loss. We are eternally grateful for their leadership, compassion, and commitment over the years.”

Wessie and Sonja remarked, “The past four and a half years have been an extremely difficult and painful period in our personal lives. We therefore appreciate having the authentic discussion with Sven, the Executive Chairman, and the care he displayed in respecting our wish to rearrange our priorities to have the necessary space to find peace for ourselves. This was not an easy decision, and we reassure you that our loyalty, passion, and care for this group will always remain. Thank you for your understanding and for affording us the necessary space to find peace.”

Wessie and Sonja’s tenure at the O&L Group has been marked by significant achievements and enduring contributions. Their visionary leadership, coupled with a deep sense of empathy and cultural understanding, has helped shape the company’s ethos and direction. Despite stepping down from their executive roles, Wessie and Sonja will forever remain an integral part of the O&L family, maintaining their positions as non-executive board members of the holding company, Olfitra.

The Executive Chairman, on behalf of the entire O&L Group, extends heartfelt appreciation to Wessie and Sonja for their exemplary leadership, dedication, and unwavering commitment throughout their tenure. “As the O&L Group bids farewell to Wessie and Sonja in their current capacities, the O&L family stands united in offering comfort, compassion, and solidarity to Wessie and Sonja as they embark on this new chapter of their lives. Their impact on the organization has been profound, and their legacy will endure”, concluded Thieme.

Further communication regarding the reconfiguration of executive roles and responsibilities within the O&L Executive Committee (Exco) will be provided at the end of April 2024.

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