06 April 2023
Who was your hero growing up?
Growing up, African women who break the mould always intrigued and fascinated me. Especially, women who would graze aspirational magazines such as the now-defunct Tribute Magazine. I have always been in awe of Wendy Luhabe, Monhla Hlahla, Gloria Serobe, Louisa Mojela and many others who opened my eyes in those times.
African women have always been on the back foot and having witnessed them break moulds has always been inspirational.
What was your big career break?
My big career break was moving from a set direction/path after several years in telecommunications to deciding to move into retail (perishables demand planning), utilising only my data analysis skills and statistics training. It helped me to realise that I can stretch myself in many ways and made me less fearful of going into uncertain environments.
“My big career break was moving from a set direction/ path after several years in telecommunications to deciding to move into retail (perishables demand planning), utilising only my data analysis skills and statistics training.”
I thought I would retire in telecommunications, and the career change came at a crucial time in my life when I needed it most.
You learn from every opportunity and that we end up right where we should be at the chosen moment.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
When I was growing up, I initially wanted to be a teacher. As a young, bright, previously disadvantaged child, I saw education as a need for everyone and of great importance. This aspiration was always frowned upon with the premise that I should strive for more, like being a doctor or engineer.
In many ways, I am currently a teacher in various spheres of influence, so the passion is still very much there.
If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would you choose?
I don’t even need to take time with my response here.
Serena Williams… do I need to say more? Her work ethic, laser focus, resilience and absolute grace on the court and off speaks for themselves. She is the greatest of all time, one of the best athletes we’ve had the pleasure to experience.
Serena is a testament to the resilience and fighting against the odds scenario. We have a lot to learn from her and I think she would make a great dinner date with her wisdom, experience, and tenacity.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I have received has to be from a lady years ago, just as I was starting in the corporate scene. She said: “own your space.”
When I started progressing in my career and was in a leadership position, this lady told me I needed to ‘own my space’ as she had noticed that I wasn’t fully occupying that space to let myself authentically lead. It was such a defining moment that I’ve never looked back.
In today’s world, so many women excuse themselves from taking up space; you need to believe in yourself and move away from the imposter syndrome many people fall victim to. You are right where you need to be - so own the space, speak up and have confidence in yourself.
“I thought I would retire in telecommunications, and the career change came at a crucial time in my life when I needed it most. You learn from every opportunity and that we end up right where we should be at the chosen moment.”
If you had to work in a different industry, which would you choose?
Thinking about this immediately, I have a few answers. However, the first thing I think about is mentoring and coaching and/or psychology. I love seeing people come into their own and fully realise their potential.
There I go, wanting to teach again.
I still unconsciously teach. Let’s say ‘mentor.’ My industry requires a passing-it-forward mindset and being teachable, and I am glad I get to do this. I am very passionate about skills transfer and about preparing our youth for a brighter and more informed future.
The Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
Are you kidding? The Beatles any day… I mean Hey Jude? They are legends. You were wise if you listened to them; that’s all there is to it.
What would you do with £1 million?
So many things come to mind, but if I were to be true to myself, I would start a plan to build schools with African history as a key tenant of the philosophy and curriculum.
We cannot progress as a nation if we don’t know and fully acknowledge who we are and where we come from. As well as reinventing our school’s curriculum, we are not learning enough about our African history, plus creating a curriculum that teaches our kids to be decent human beings.
Unfortunately, we are running short of decent human beings. When you manifest good energy and do good in the world, it will come back to you threefold. We need to develop our youth for a better and brighter future.
What’s the greatest technological advancement in your lifetime?
It’s definitely got to be the mobile phone. Very few people, if any, can still remember what life was like before, and even though we’re on the umpteenth version of the smartphone, it continues to drive a huge part of how we live, work, and relate with each other socially.
Think about it - previously, people would have to be at home to speak to family or friends; if the person wasn’t home, you could leave a message (that’s if they have an answering machine), or you just missed them.