Martin Sanne, Executive Director: CSIR materials science and manufacturing (MSM), joined the CSIR in January 2016 from an Industry background of IT, telecommunications, electrical engineering and energy industries where he has held various roles during his career. Martin is also currently a board member of the Mandela Bay Composites Cluster. Martin brings nearly 30 years of Engineering and Management experience to CSIR with particular experience and skills in Engineering/R&D Management, Project Management, Business Development, Sales and Sales Management, Product Management, Strategic Business Planning, and New Ventures which have included full profit and loss responsibility for multi billion rand budgets. Martin gained extensive experience working across Africa and across the world in the above mentioned fields. Raised in South Africa, Martin previously headed up the Siemens Africa Smart Grid Energy business providing solutions for utilities (e.g.ESKOM), Oil and Gas, Mines, and a broad range of industry types including municipalities in general. Martin was also part of the IT/internet startup SEACOM as General Manager of SEACOM South Africa (Pty) Ltd. and Global Head of Sales of SEACOM Ltd., Mauritius where he built sales and sales operations across Africa and internationally. This highly innovative and privately funded company brought the affordable Internet to South and East Africa interconnecting to most international communications service providers. Other previous roles included heading up Mobile Network sales at Siemens Telecommunications and Nokia Siemens Networks as Divisional Managing Director and Sales Director in Southern Africa. Key customers included the telcos Telkom, Vodacom, MTN, CellC, and Celtel to name a few. A significant part of Martin’s career was built with Siemens AG in Germany where he headed up the line of business for 3G communications solutions at a time when Siemens (then a competitor of Nokia) was amongst the top three GSM and 3G equipment vendors of the world. Other roles at Siemens AG included strategic product portfolio management, product management, technical sales and R&D management. Martin became a registered Professional Engineer in South Africa while he headed up the Engineering Division at Siemens Telecommunications in South Africa in the late 1990’s. This role was part of the Siemens world wide R&D and technical sales support activities in telecommunications. Martin completed a BSc in Electrical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa in 1984 and a MSc in Digital Systems in Cranfield, England in 1987.
In his various roles, Martin has been involved in commercialising intellectual property (IP), seed funding new ventures and setting up technology spin outs and start ups. From 1988 to 1994 he managed research and development and product management leading to the registration of a number of patents in the mobile network and communications networks arena. In the late ‘90s, while he managed the Engineering and R&D group in SA, he for example drove the joint development and IP definition, together with Telkom and Vodacom, of a Distributed Optical Fibre Concentrator and a GSM based vehicle tracking system. These systems were deployed in South Africa and other countries around the world. At the start of the new millennium, as part of the Line of Business Management role, Martin was deeply involved in the R&D and IP development of 3G and the then ultra ambitious 4G mobile networks. Most recently in the Smart Grid role, he was involved in driving forward new ventures including vendor funding of utility management services.