EXISTING IN WHITE MALE DOMINATED SPACES…IMPOSTER SYNDROME MUCH…EEK!

Over the past few years, I have had a few friends ask me how it feels to be a double minority in a majority white male dominated industry …and only now that I’ve taken time off to do my masters can I truly reflect on it. Not because I’ve never felt like the other or thought about it…Not because I’ve never sat in a boardroom and seen 14 white male faces stare back at me while I go on about some nuanced selling point of their company… but rather because I have felt like the other for a very long time and I’ve learnt that, perhaps, that is my superpower and not Achilles heel. 1

Being lucky enough to win a scholarship to a prestigious high school in Canada at a very young age and then going to a University that was perhaps 90% white, being a minority has been part and parcel of my growing up. Then being assimilated to a culture that is so far removed, firstly went to ensure I appreciated my own but also made me aware at a young age of how there are so many divides that we must bridge when we show up at 8am at the office (or rather 9am in my situation because I probably left the office at 4am).  So how does it feel to live most of your life in a world far different from your parents and how does it feel to navigate a career in investment banking as a black woman when you have no people to emulate? The below describes some of the most influential and poignant points that helped me navigate the industry as a young adult coming out of University…

I believe I was very lucky that when I first started working I was surrounded by confident and able professionals who were generally well respected within the industry. Investment Banking, and specifically Mergers and Acquisitions, is not and has never been for the faint hearted. I think it is painted in the light of wall street backstabbers, non-stop travelling and 20-hour days. 2 out of 3 of those were true for me when I first started. Post the initial teething of joining a new team, I was surrounded with some of the most competent and intelligent people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  They were concerned about my growth, both professionally and personally. That gave me the confidence to attack most things head on.

If something went wrong my first answer was not, “it’s because I’m a woman or it’s because I’m black, right?” (You would be surprised how many times I’ve heard this in Boardrooms). And I’m not saying that often not being promoted or not being first choice for a project has anything to do with this but being able to articulate that you think this is why something has happened despite your contributions is very important.

The first specific thing that I could somewhat control which helped me when I was starting out was having an ally who was concerned about my growth within the business. In general, this is always important regardless of who you are, having mentors is crucial in most corporates, having someone who will always have your professional growth in mind heavily influences your career progression. I think as women, especially minority women, we always think that person will be a minority woman if they exist in the business, but it often is not. It certainly was not for me. My biggest ally was my European boss who more than once, gave a client a dressing down because he referred to my age at a meeting or when someone else referred to me being the only woman at a Board meeting.  I have unfortunately found that minority women have a hard time supporting each other.  Our generation is a lot better at it, but I found that more senior minority women tend to believe that they made it the difficult way when they were the only ones without any support and you should do it that way. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment, I truly believe that in 2018 it is important to pay it forward as much as you can.  That said, I have received some of the best career advice from other strong black women in the industry, namely Phuthi Mahanyele, who I never worked with but met at various events.

Secondly, there is nothing more important than ensuring you are extremely competent in your work, I think that is how I got over the infamous impostor syndrome. I constantly went above and beyond what was required of me. I did more research than was required, I ran more scenarios than were necessary because I always wanted to be prepared.  Because I always felt confident about the work, I never second guessed myself.

3If you have a fair boss, that is all they require, that you think of the questions they have not thought of and that both of you are never caught off-guard by a client.  I think in general as a minority in any industry, the impostor syndrome rings too true because you do not have anyone to speak to who has a similar background to you; till this day I am pretty sure neither of my parents really know what I do! But I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to be super confident in your work, it often alleviates a lot of unnecessary pressure.

Thirdly, always ask for what you think you deserve.  I’m not even sure if it’s black culture or being a female that initially made me not forthcoming in what I wanted, be it a promotion or a salary increase. One of the first things companies will always do when you quit is offer you more money, which is telling of the fact that they probably thought they were underpaying you. In my second year, an analyst on my level nonchalantly commented that he had a conversation with one of our managers about a salary increase. I was so flabbergasted. “Did I not deserve this salary increase? I worked the same ridiculous hours as the guy sitting next to me? I probably needed this money more because of black tax. Was my work product not as good as his?”. I kept wracking my brain for something this Jewish white male had done exceptionally well lately, that I had not.  I was working on a project with said manager at the time and post one of our meetings I broached the subject. Turns out my fellow analyst brought up the conversation because a friend of his doing something similar in another bank was making slightly more than him and he wanted this rectified. Honestly, I would not have known where to start comparing salaries with someone, but this was a good lesson for me in knowing my worth and asking for my just deserves.

Do not get me wrong, I do think there will always be unconscious bias till we get corporates to look like the rest of what South Africa is. But ensuring that we hire the most able young professionals regardless of the colour of their skin and sex is growing in corporates and it is our duty as minorities to advocate for this as it makes business sense.

2

Representation = Business Sense. Till this becomes a norm unfortunately most females or other minorities will have feelings of feeling like the other. The only way I know to deal with this is being as much of an ally as I possibly can and attempting to provide the support I wish I had when I was starting out.

So in earnest, paying the double tax will never be favourable and I tip my hat to the people who have done it before me, but it gets easier with time as more people realise how important it is to grow the circle and be supportive.

B life

 

Buhle Ndlovu

MBA Candidate 2017- 2018

Co-Chair Oxford Business Network Africa

Saïd Business School

University of Oxford

 

An interview with Bongekile Radebe: On Being Her Own Cup of Tea

In 2015 I was asked to participate in a panel discussion at the Youth Economic Indaba hosted by the Association of Black Securities & Investment Professionals (ABSIP). My particular panel was themed around women empowerment, and I was so honoured at the opportunity to share my thoughts amongst an accomplished group of young women. One of the things I remember fondly about this experience was the connection I had with the panel moderator- Bongekile Radebe. She was sharp, accomplished (from a very young age) and, immediately after our engaging panel debate was over, our common surname compelled me to call her Ma Bhungane (isithakazelo saka Radebe) which led to an exchange of kind, knowing smiles. Since then Bongekile has been on the path to world domination! When we first met, she was the founder of an organization called Her Destiny, a social business that created a platform for empowering conversations amongst women, related to connecting generations, personal development and financial literacy. But at the heart of all these conversations was tea, which was the consistent beverage served at each of her meetups. It was only a matter of time until Bongekile began to connect the dots to a more sustainable, impactful business model and an audacious aspiration. Her big idea- starting her own premium tea product called, “Taste of Legends”. This pivoted her passion project from being a social initiative into a health, wellness, lifestyle and agricultural enterprise.

Taste of Legends

Photo Source: @tasteoflegends

MG: So, you have a finance and banking background, and pivoted into starting a tea business. How did you approach the learning process in starting your business, especially since you had no experience and many of your large competitors have been in this game for ages?

BR: It took a good two years to develop my tea product, but I took my time because I didn’t want my tea to be just another tea product. I really wanted my tea to carry the vision of women and communities coming together to connect and learn. Hence the brand name “Taste of Legends”, which represents the various parts of the vision I was aiming to create. The brand name, the package design everything in between was all intentional and I didn’t want to rush this process. Fortunately, had a very good understanding of the things I didn’t know, and I always want to give my best in what I do, so I knew the most effective way for me to learn more about tea production was to surround myself with people who were masters in it already. This has especially helped to get the product side of the business working very well. Also, not a day goes by without me reading something related to tea and I had a natural curiosity to find out what the best tea in the world is and why. This has also focused my attention on building a brand that is globally strong and has potential to do exceptionally well somewhere else outside of South Africa. But a key business lesson for me has been being able to think big, and being okay with starting small.

MG: When did you launch your tea product and how has your business grown since?

BR: I launched “Taste of Legends” in August 2017, during SA women’s month, which was great timing considering the significance of the month and the background of my business. It’s now available for purchase on social media, and the website is due to launch soon. However, all the relationships I forged from before launching my own tea product have really pulled through and helped me penetrate the market. I also think the main reason these relationships helped was that they had seen the previous work I’d done and trusted that I could make my business a success. Relationships and the networks one builds over time are so important and should never be underestimated. My biggest client so far has been Brand South Africa.

Bongi quote

Photo Source: The Young Independents (2016)

MG: With your global achievements, including being a Mandela Washington Fellow and a One Young World Ambassador, have you always been intentional about wanting to stand up as a businesswoman on a global stage?

BR: I think I’ve always had my intentions in the right place, as opposed to just chasing an accolade. I remember when I was a teenager I used to read magazines and look up to these women who were my definition of success. At the tender age of 20, I was on the cover of Destiny magazine’s Power of 40 issue next to Khanyi Dhlomo, which was a small affirmation that started to shape a bigger picture for me and led me to where I am today. I continue to be spiritually aware of this favour and grateful for these building blocks. I consciously believe that I was not called to live an ordinary life, and I know that, in some way or another, my life will be great. I also realise that this comes with added responsibility, which can be very rewarding and also at times very painful. But this all builds deep wisdom and I welcome this as a spiritual experience.

destiny-mag-cover

Image Source: Destiny Magazine (2011)

MG: So, what’s next for “Taste of Legends”?

BR: I’m passionate about turning my tea business into a community of legends and people aspiring to achieve legendary work and/or legendary moments. We, as people, have the tendency to be so intensely goal orientated, but tea allows us the opportunity to just take it all in, either in solitude or with the company of others. “Taste of Legends” wants to help its consumers achieve wellness, self-care and we know that this, in turn, helps our consumers be their best and ultimately achieve their goals. I have my own aspirations for the business but I’m also looking forward to the business blowing me away. I’m especially keen to see the business grow in time to uplift the livelihoods of families that we work with. I think it’s excited to live in an age where we can document our journeys, and I dream of the day where I get to say that I am a black, township raised girl, who went on to make the best tea in the world.

Article by: Magcino Gule | Mbewu Movement Founding Member

Magcino Gule holds a Master of Philosophy in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (University of Cape Town). She is an Executive Assistant in Financial Services

Siya GuleFollow Tech. Literature. Culture. Business. Thinking about Thinking

What are the richest man in Japan and his employees reading?

Fast Retailing’s Bookshelf A shot of one of the section’s of Fast Retailing’s HQ bookshelves “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ― James Baldwin Back in 2016 I was fortunate enough to spend about a week in Tokyo attending a Hitotsubashi Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy exchange program. As part of that experience, we were hosted at Uniqlo’s 10-storey signature store in Ginza, and even more interestingly — spent time at Fast Retailing’s headquarters in Roppongi, chatting for about an hour with Tadashi Yenai — Japan’s richest man. Tadashi Yenai Outside of the lessons he was gracious enough to endow us with, a distinct impression I left with was how widely read he is — and how he tries to inculcate this culture of autodidacticism within his organisation. We spent our lunchtime munching on Bento boxes in one of their common areas where they keep many of their books. Given how secretive this company is in nature (they’ve still not allowed the snaps taken during the trip to their offices to be released except those taken outside their Uniqlo store in Ginza) — I thought I’d try to snap some picture of a few shelves to get a sense of what passes for interesting/useful in the halls of Fast Retailing. To be sure this is a fantastically successful company whose ambition is to drive Uniqlo to become the world’s number apparel brand by 2020. They’re in a fierce tussle mainly with H&M & Zara and use similar strategies of very fast turnaround on designs/styles, low cost and a limited (but fast changing) range which is current. The time spent at Uniqlo before they opened for the day was fascinating in seeing how much staff at all levels are expected to know about the company’s operations and strategy as well the intricacies of their particular store and floor. The kinds of questions we heard being asked were clearly those of a company that expects all to think and behave like a mini-general manager or mini-executive. Evidently this rolls up to holding company Fast Retailing itself and brings us back to those bookshelves. As stated, while getting fed I took a few pics (below) of about 250–300 titles of the titles on display and have collated these for your convenience dear reader. New friends “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads — and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” ― Charlie T. Munger “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” ― Warren Buffett Now the first thing which struck me when going through these tomes is the sheer breadth of the subjects at hand. Not just books on management and supply chain but the deep fascination with psychology, philosophy, history and sociology is hard to miss. Steve Jobs once said “Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with the liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.” Well this ethos is in full swing at Fast Retailing but of course all from economics to organisational theory were well represented. View from Midtown Towers, Fast Retailing Tokyo HQ Equally fascinating were where some of the largest clustering was occurring in terms of genre:

  • A clear focus on philosophy
  • Understanding and managing the human animal
  • Efficiency & organisation
  • Technology & Science

History Tadashi mentioned very specifically how important people are to him, his organisation and his history. No doubt he’s an extraordinary human being whose work ethic is decidedly Japanese but even he realised he couldn’t do it alone. Understanding his employees, business partners and enablers as well the potential clients and societies/cultures at large. Also of interest are the fact that much of the material here is old…some of it VERY old. No doubt part of this is down to the fact that books are being donated to this pool and as such are slightly older, yet real wisdom is essentially ageless. In fact there are many successful people — Tim Ferris is an example — who essentially eschew keeping up with modern books, articles and newspapers in favour of older tomes which have stood the test of time. This “test of time” concept is explored by the inimitable Nassim taleb (of Black Swan & Anti-Fragile fame) through a concept he refers to as the Lindy Effect — the idea that the future life expectancy of some non-perishable thing like a technology or a book is proportional to it’s current age, so that every additional period of survival implies a longer remaining life expectancy.

Alas below is a list I’ve compiled with the books I could decipher from the images taken— enjoy and make your library great again. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” ― Margaret Fuller Fast Retailing’s Public Bookshelves I’ve categorised these into loose genres and attributed scores where I could source these from public sources like Goodreads or Amazon. You’ll note I’ve not transcribed any of the Japanese books…feel free to reach out and let me know what these are if you read Kanji 🙂 Key — [Book Title] [Author] [Score] Anthropology

  • The Symbolic Species: The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain Terence W. Deacon 4.2
  • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed Jared Diamond Anthropology 3.9 Biography
  • Chomsky: Language, Mind and Politics James McGilvray 4.2 Business
  • The Failure of Antitrust & Regulation to Establish Competion in Long Distance Telephone Service Paul W. MacAvoy
  • Supermarkets: 50 Years of Progress Randolph McAusland Decline of Service in Retail Trade David Schwartzman
  • Catching Up With The Computer Revolution HBR, Lynn M. Salerno (Editor)
  • Knowledge and Competitive Advantage Johann Peter Murmann 4
  • Economic Performance & The Theory of the Firm David J Teece 3.9
  • Extreme Toyota: Radical Contradictions That Drive Success at the World’s Best Manufacturer Emi Osono, Norihiko Shimizu, Hirotaka Takeuchi 3.3
  • B2B Exchanges W. William A. Woods & Arthur B. Sculley 3 Business History
  • The Wheels of Commerce Fernand Braudel 4.4
  • The Control Revolution James R. Beniger 4 Business Strategy
  • Creating Value: Winners in the New Business Environment Michael Hitt, Robert D. Nixon & Raphael Amit
  • Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation Kees van der Heijden 4.5
  • MetaCapitalism: The E Business Revolution and the Design of 21st Century Companies and Markets Grady E. Means & David Schneider 3.8
  • Spanning Silos David Aaker 3.7
  • Confronting Reality Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan 3.7
  • Attention Economy: Understanding the New Currency of Business John C. Beck & Thomas H. Davenport 3.6 Calculus
  • Introductory Calculus for Business & Economics Dennis G. Zill Career Advice
  • The Breakthrough Team Player Andrew J Dubrin 2 Change Management
  • The Heart of Change John P. Kotter 4 Cognition
  • Visual Cognition & Action: An Invitation To Cognitive Science Daniel N. Osherson 4.5
  • Creative Cognition: Theory, Research, and Applications Ronald A Finke, S. Smith & Thomas B. Ward 5
  • The Dynamics of Time & Space: Transcending Limits of Knowledge Tarthang Tulku 4.4
  • A User’s Guide to the Brain John J. Ratey. MD 4 Communication •On The Pragmatics of Communication Jürgen Habermas 3.8 Company Biography
  • Making the CISCO Connection David Bunnell 3.1 Computer Science
  • Parallel Distriuted Processing VI & VII David E. Rumelhart, James L. McClelland & PDP Research Group 5 Conference Notes
  • International Cartels in Business History Akira Kudō, Terushi Hara Corporate Culture
  • Corporate Instinct Thomas M. Koulopoulos 4 Corporate Culture & Organisational Effectiveness Daniel R. Denison Decision Theory •Think Michel Legault 3.1 Design
  • A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction Christopher W. Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein, Max Jacobson, Ingrid Fiksdahl-King, Shlomo Angel 4.4 Ecology
  • Political Ecology Payl Robbins 3.8 Economics
  • US Competitiveness in the World Economy Bruce Scott & George C. Lodge
  • The Tyranny of The Market: A Critique of Theoretical Foundations Douglas Vickers
  • The Japanese Economy: Trade, Industry & Government Ryūtarō Komiya
  • The Essence of Capitalism Humphrey McQueen Economics Readings in Applied Microeconomic Theory: Market Forces and Solutions Robert E. Kuenne
  • Japan’s Network Economy: Structure, Persistence, and Change (Structural Analysis in the Social Sciences) James Lincoln & Michael L Gerlach
  • Japanese Exports & Foreign Direct Investment Hideki Yamawaki
  • Firms, Markets and Hierarchies: The Transaction Cost Economics Perspective Glenn R. Carroll
  • Economic Evolution & Structure Frederic Pryor
  • Small is Beautiful E. F. Schumacher 4.1
  • Institutions, Institutional Change & Economic Performance Douglass North 4.1
  • The Architecture of Markets Neil Fligstein 4 Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science Charles Wheelan 4 •Looking At The Sun James Fallows 4 •Knowledge & Persuasion in Economics Deirdre McCloskey 4 •Information Rules Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian 4 •The Art of Profitability Adrian Slywotzky 3.9 •A Nation In Waiting: Indonesia’s Search for Stability Adam Schwarz 3.9 •The Nature of Economies Jane Jacobs 3.8 •Japan Remodeled Steven K. Vogel 3.6 •Why Globalisation Works Martin Wolf 3.5 •The Zero-Sum Society Lester C Thurow 3.5 •New Directions in Economic Methodology Roger Backhouse 3 Education •The Dialectic of Freedom Maxine Greene 4.2 Energy •Energy Future Robert Stobaugh & Daniel Yergin (Editors) Environmental •The Ages of Gaia James Loverlock 3.8 Essays •Untruth: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is (Almost Always) Wrong Robert J Samuelson 3.1 Fiction •The Short Stories Ernest Hemingway 4.2 •The Sorrow of War Bảo Ninh 4 Finance •Return on Investment (ROI) Robert A. Peters •Corporate Financial reporting Andrew Higson •When Genius Failed: The Rise & Fall of Long Term Capital Management Roger Lowenstein 4.2 •Essentials of Managerial Finance Eugene F. Brigham & Scott Besley 3.8 •Financial Management & Policy James C. Van Horne 3.6 Globalisation •A Future Perfect John Micklethwait & Adrian Wooldridge 3.4 History •Mao Zedong & China’s Revolution Timothy Cheek •Mao Zedong As Poet & Revolutionary Leader C. Vaughan 5 •The World War Two Reader (Routledge Readers in History) Gordon Martel 4.3 •The Shield of Achilles Philip Bobbitt 4.1 •Genghis Khan Jack Weatherford 4 •Origins of the Chinese Revolution, 1915–1949 Lucien Bianco 3.7 •Constant Battles: Why We Fight Steven A. LeBlanc, Katherine E. Register History 3.7 •A Concise History of Finland D. G. Kirby & David Kirby 3.6 •People Who Made History: Mao Zedong C.J. Shane 3 •The Chinese Revolution & Mao Zedong in World History Ann Malaspina 2.5 Human Capital •Virtual Learning: A Revolutionary Approach to Building a Highly Skilled •Workforce Roger C. Schank 4.5 •Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills And Talent Ken Dychtwald & Tamara J Erickson 4.2 •Hiring Smart: How to Predict Winners & Losers In The People-Reading Game Pierre Mornell 3.9 •Work-Based Learning: Bridging Knowledge and Action in the Workplace Joseph A. Raelin 3 Information Theory •Information Theory: An introduction for scientists & engineers Gordon Raisbeck 4 •Information, Systems and Information System: Making Sense of the Field Peter Checkland & Sue Holwell 3.6 Innovation •The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from Ideo, America’s Leading Design Firm Tom Kelley, Jonathan Littman, Tom Peters 4 Intellectual Capital •Profiting from Intellectual Capital: Extracting Value from Innovation Patrick H. Sullivan 4 Japanese History •Japanese Culture H. Paul Varley 3.8 •Tokugawa Religion Robert Neelly Bellah 3.7 Leadership •21st Century Leaders for the 21st Century Fons Trompenaars & Charles Hampden-Turner 3.8 Linguistics •Abduction, Belief and Context in Dialogue: Studies in Computational Pragmatics Harry Bunt & William Black •Grammar & Conceptualisation Ronald Langacker 4.8 •Toward a Cognitive Semantics Leonard Talmy 3.9 •From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of Language Jerome A. Feldman 3.7 •Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative Mieke Bal 3.6 •Mappings in Thought & Language Gilles Fauconnier 4.2 Literary Theory •Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction Jonathan Culler 3.7 Management Theory •The Great Organisers Ernest Dale •The Executive Role Constellation: An Analysis of Personality and Role Relations in Management Hardcover Daniel J. Levinson, Abraham Zaleznik & Richard C Hodgson •Management: Inventing and Delivering Its Future Richard L. Schmalensee & Thomas Anton Kochan •The Art Firm: Aesthetic Management and Metaphysical Marketing Pierre Guillet De Monthoux 5 •Business Anthropology: ‘Glocal’ Management Motofusa Murayama •Basho Management Masao Maekawa 4 •Team Players & Teamwork Glenn Parker 3.8 •American Anti-Management Theories of Organization: A Critique of Paradigm Proliferation Lex Donaldson 3 Euromanagement: A New Style for the Global Market Helen Bloom 2 •Productivity Analysis as a Resource Management Tool in the Retail Trade Hirotaka Takeuchi Marketing •Marketing Performance Assessment Thomas V. Bonoma & Bruce H. Clark •Marketing Models & Econometric Research Leonard J. Parsons & Randall L. Schultz 4 •The Design Dimension: The New Competitive Weapon for Product Strategy and Global Marketing Christopher Lorenz 3.5 Mathematics •Mathematics: A Foundation for Decisions Dennis E. Grawoig •Elemetary Calculus for Business, Economics & Social Sciencies Chaney Anderson and R. C. Pierce •Descartes’ Dream Philip J. Davis 3.8 Memoir •A Life In Our Times John Kenneth Galbraith 4 Military History •Friendly Fire: The Accidental Shootdown of U.S. Black Hawks Over Northern Iraq Scott A. Snook 4.2 •Military Innovation In the Interwar Period Allan Reed Millett & Williamson Murray 3.8 •The Dynamics of Military Revolution MacGregor Knox & Williamson Murray 3.5 Modern History •The Future & It’s Enemies Virginia Postrel 4.1 •Crimes Against Nature Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. 4.1 •The Information Society & The Welfare State: The Finnish Model Manuel Castells & Pekka Himanen 3.9 •America Unbound Ivo Daalder & James M. Lindsay 3.4 •Innovation in American Government Alan A. Altshuler & Robert D. Behn 3 Motivation & Reward •Intrinsic Motivation At Work Edward L. Deci & Richard M. Ryan 3.8 Negotiation •Getting to Yes Bruce Patton, Roger Fisher & William Ury 3.7 Organisational Theory •Readings on Modern Organisations Amitai Etzioni •Organisations: Structure & Process Hall, R.H. •Organisation Theory and the Multinational Corporation Sumantra Ghoshal & D. Eleanor Westney •The Demography of Corporations & Industries Glenn R. Carroll & Michael T. Hannan 4.5 •Recreating The Corporation Russell L. Ackoff 4.5 •Excellence By Design: Transforming Workplace and Work Practice Turid Horgen, Michael L. Joroff, William L. Porter & Donald A. Schon 4.5 •The Twenty-First-Century Firm: Changing Economic Organization in International Perspective Paul DiMaggio 4.3 •The Dynamics of Rules: Change in Written Organizational Codes James G. March, Martin Schulz & Xueguang Zhou 4 •Adaptive Enterprise: Creating and Leading Sense-And-Respond Organizations Stephan H. Haeckel 4 •Imaginization: New Mindsets For Seeing, Organizing And Managing Gareth Morgan 3.7 •Quantum Organisations Ralph H. Kilmann 3.5 Philosophy •The Theory & Practice of Actuality Uchiyama •Redirecting Philosophy: Reflections on the Nature of Knowledge from Plato to Lonerga Hugo Anthony Meynell •Philosophy of Science Journal •Philosophy & The Emotions: A Reader Stephen Leighton •Kant’s Theory of Knowledge Georges Dicker •Hegel’s History of Philosophy: New Interpretations David A. Duquette •Explaining Beliefs Anthonie W. M. Meijers •Dialetics of The Will: Freedom, Power, and Understanding in Modern •French and German Thought John H. Smith •Belief and its Neutralisation Marcus Brainard •Being & Worth Andrew Collier •Hegel & Aesthetics William Maker 5 •From East to West Roy Bhaskar 5 •A Search for Unity in Diversity: The ‘Permanent Hegelian Deposit’ in the Philosophy of John Dewey James A. Good 5 •Reconceptions in Philosphy and Other Arts and Sciences Catherine Elgin & Nelson Goodman 4.5 •Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow 4.5 •Philosophy As A Way of Life Pierre Hadot 4.3 •The Production of Space Henri Lefebvre 4.2 •Experience & Judgement Edmund Husseri 4.2 •Popper Selections Karl Popper 4.1 •Wittgenstein (One World Philosophers) Avrum Stroll 4 •The Thinking of The Sensible Mauro Carbone 4 •The Power of Dialogue Hans-Herbert Kögler 4 •Pragmatism: A Reader Louis Menand 4 •Pragmatism: A new name for some old ways of thinking William James 4 •Dialectic and Dialogue: Plato’s Practice of Philosophical Inquiry Francisco J. Gonzalez 4 •Ulysses Unbound Jon Elster 3.9 •The Transcendence of the Ego Essay by Jean-Paul Sartre 3.9 •Structuralism & Poststructuralism for Beginners Donald Palmer 3.9 •Serendipities Umberto Eco 3.8 •Points of View A. W. Moore 3.8 •Critique of Dialectical Reason Jean-Paul Satre 3.8 •Ten Problems of Consciousness: A Representational Theory of the Phenomenal Mind Michael Tye 3.6 •Philosophy of Art: A Contemporary Introduction Noel Carroll 3.6 •An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy Roger Scruton 3.6 •Toward A Logic of Meaning Philip Davidson 3.5 •The Geometry of Meaning Peter Gärdenfors 3.5 •Seinfeld and Philosophy William Irwin 3.5 •Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the theory of knowledge Robert Audi 3.5 •Knowledge and Mind: A Philosophical Introduction Andrew Brook & Robert J. Stainton 3.4 •Hegel’s Epistemology Kenneth R. Westphal 2.8 •Phenomenology & Deconstruction Robert Denoon Cumming 2.5 •The Other Husserl: Horizons of Transcendental Phenomonology Donn Welton 3.8 Political Theory •Marx for Beginners Rius 3.8 •Agendas, Alternatives & Public Policies John W. Kingdon 3.6 •Inclusion & Democracy Iris Marion Young 3.5 •The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger Pierre Bourdieu 3.3 Politics •A Theory of Public Bureaucracy Donald P Warwick, Marvin Meade & Theodore Libby Reed 5 •A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power Jimmy Carter 4 Politics & Philosophy •Freedom and its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty Isiah Berlin 4.3 Productivity •Getting Results from Electronic Meetings Alan Weatherall 5 Project Management •The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge Project Management Institute Project Management 3.6 Psychology •The Evolution of Human Nature Charles Judson Herrick •The Act of Thinking Derek Melser 4.5 •Minding Minds Radu J. Bogdan 4.5 •Practical Intelligence in Everyday Life Robert Sternberg 4.4 •Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power Art Kleiner 4.2 •Presence Amy Cuddy 4 •Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences Howard Gardner 4 •Intelligence Reframed Howard Gardner 3.7 •Intuition David Myers 3.6 •Changing Minds: The Art And Science of Changing Our Own And Other •People’s Minds Howard Gardner 3.6 Research Design •Designing Social Research Norman Blaikie 4.8 Science •The Evolution of Cooperation Robert Axelrod 4.2 •Quantum Theory & The Flight from Realism: Philosophical Responses to •Quantum Mechanics Christopher Norris 4 •The Third Culture John Brockman 3.8 •Radical Evolution Joel Garreau 3.8 •Introducing Chaos Ziauddin Sardar 3.5 •Time, Space & Things B. K. Ridley 3.9 Service •Living Service: How to Deliver the Service of the Future Today Marc Silvester & Mohi Ahmed Sociology •The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier Howard Rheingold 3.8 •Plenitude 2,0 Grant McCracken •Continuities in the Study of Social Conflict Lewis A. Coser •All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity Robert W. Fuller 4.3 •48 Laws of Power Robert Greene 4.2 •The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature Steven Pinker 4.1 •Organizing America: Wealth, Power, and the Origins of Corporate Capitalism Charles Perrow 4.1 •On Civilisation, Power & Knowledge Norbet Elias 4.1 •Against Race: Imagining Political Culture Beyond the Colour Line Paul Gilroy 3.6 •The Myth of Social Action Colin Campbell 3.5 •Digital Nation Anthony G. Wilhelm 3.1 •Social Behaviour: It’s Elemetary Forms George C. Homans 3 •Max Weber’s Methodology: The Unification of the Cultural and Social Sciences Fritz K. Ringer 2.8 •The Closing of the American Mind Allan Bloom 3.7 Statistics •Statistics: An Introductory Analysis Taro Yamane •Statistical Analysus for Business Decisions Charles Pius Bonini & William Alfred Spurr •Complete Business Statistics Amir Aczel 3.6 Surveys •Mail and Telephone Surveys: The Total Design Method Don A. Dillman Systems Theory •The Conceptual Structures(s) of Modality: Essences & Ideologies Gunther & Martina Lampert •Systems Thinking: Creative Holism for Managers Michael Jackson 3.9 Technology •Information Management: The Strategic Dimension Michael Earl •The Age of Spiritual Machines Ray Kurzweil 4 •Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software Steven Johnson 4 •The Success of Open Source Steven Weber 3.9 •The Future of Work Thomas W. Malone 3.9 •When Things Start To Think Neil Gershenfeld 3.7 •Telecosm George Gilder 3.6 •Why Things Bite Back Edrward Tenner 3.5 •The Society of Text Edward Barrett 3.5 Technology History •Where Wizards Stay Up Late; The Origins of the Internet Katie Hafner & Matthew Lyon 3.9 •What The Dormouse Said: How 60s Counterculture Shaped the PC Industry John Markoff 3.8 •In The Beginning..Was The Command Line Neal Stephenson 3.8 Writing •Elements of Style E. B. White & William Strunk Jr. 4.2 Siya Gule (@siyagule on Twitter) Books Business Reading Strategy Japan

Interview with Siviwe Gwarube, Executive Director of Communications at the Democratic Alliance

It’s not often that we have the opportunity to celebrate young black women in politics, as the political environment in South Africa is dominated by older men and women. Siviwe Gwarube, who earlier this year was announced as Executive Director of Communication at the Democratic Alliance at just 28 years old, is one such person to be celebrated.

Siphesihle Dube, Provincial Transport MEC’s spokesperson and Siviwe’s dear friend describes her as “…a phenomenal woman who is driven by a soft and unassuming ambition that has seen her carve her own unique path, both professionally and personally. She is a friend and mentor to many, and is always on hand to deliver the best advice that denotes a wisdom beyond her young age. What an honour to get to call her my friend.” Mihlali Peter, accountant at Buffalo City Metropolitan and Siviwe’s sister in law describes her as “…a grounded woman, who is respectful with a gentle loving soul. I admire her drive and ability stay true to herself and where she comes from”.

From my interaction with Siviwe, I echo all these sentiments. She is a force to be reckoned with, and South Africa should definitely look out for things to come from her. I sat down with Siviwe to find out more about her journey:

LM: Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? How did you grow up? What have your greatest influences been in life?

SG: My upbringing is a very simple one. I was born KwaMgingi, a small village outside of King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape. I lived there until I was 18 with my maternal grandmother who raised me and is still alive today.

I come from a household situation that is quite common in South Africa, where the parents have a child at a young age and they leave you to be raised by grandparents. I also had the experience that many young black South Africans have, where I resided in the village, and went to school away from where they lived. School was a whole different reality from where I was coming from and I would commute every day to school. Therefore, there was a duality in the way I lived. Which is not unique as it’s product of where we come from as a country, where people want to send their children away to have a better life and a future. But I had a very simple, very typical village life in hindsight.

My greatest influence is my grandmother, a woman who was born before her time as she decided not to get married, she wanted to self-actualise and have a life of her own. She didn’t feel as though she needed a husband to get the most out of life, which was atypical at the time. This didn’t put her in good standing with her family, her father didn’t understand. When she fell pregnant, she went against the grain and she didn’t feel compelled to marry the baby’s father. She also owned a few businesses and was a teacher for a few years and in her late 50s she went back to school to obtain a BA in Linguistics.

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Siviwe with her Grandmother

LM: What inspired you to take the challenging path of Politics? What have been your greatest learnings? Who have your role models been?

SG: Choosing the Politics path was a complete accident for me. When I was in my final year at Rhodes University (studying BA in Law, Politics and Philosophy), I ran out of funds to further my studies towards obtaining an LLB. This was devastating for me because I had goals of becoming a family lawyer. At the time, I was involved in the Democratic Alliance Young Leaders Programme at Rhodes, which for me was an extra activity. Through this platform I met Lindiwe Mazibuko, who was a parliamentary leader at the time and was hiring a spokesperson. I saw the job post for the position, felt it would be an inspiring opportunity and not thinking that I would get the job, I applied. I subsequently went through a long interview process, which was an incredible experience. I didn’t have money to go to Cape Town for the interview so we set up a call for me.

Then I got the job, and soon after I went through what I imagine Donald Trump would’ve thought as soon as he arrived at the Oval Office. Thoughts such as ‘What have I done?! Now I’m going to Cape Town and I will be in Parliament! What am I going to do there?’ raced through my mind. The first three years was such a great working experience, and a lot happened in South Africa’s political universe including the Vote of No Confidence, Nkandla saga and the 2014 National Elections, which I formed a great part of. I just fell in love with Political Communication (although didn’t set out to), so decided to study in this field and set out to do my Honours degree on it which involves topics such as how to reach out to voters etc.  Finally, I am coming to the end of this particular journey and have completed my thesis which I’m handing in next week! It’s taken me 3 years because of balancing all the pressures of work, but has really been worth it.

I look up to various people for different things, so I feel it would be exclusionary for me to name people. However, I must mention that Lindiwe Mazibuko is definitely one of them because throughout my time working with her, she was very willing to teach and like a sponge and took in a lot.

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Siviwe with Lindiwe Mazibuko

LM: Tell us about your experience as a black woman in Politics? What’s the outlook for others like you, with similar backgrounds, who would like to come into the industry?

SG: South Africa is still very much a patriarchal society and some of the interventions we have through governments and government policies are great as benchmarks, but not substantial enough to make real changes. We operate in a context where men don’t view themselves as equal to women.

Then there’s the matter of intersectionality, being a woman and being a black person. It’s quite complex and there’s a huge amount of pressure in dealing with it, but just highlighting it is useless, instead it should be tackled head on. In my case in particular, I am aware that it’s the way others view me, but I also don’t view myself as just that. I don’t go around with the albatross around my neck in the way I carry out my work.

Young black South Africans have occupied spaces everywhere: Sciences, Arts, Politics, Business and many more. So perhaps 10 years ago, things would be a lot different, but in today’s world young black women people are doing great things in their fields and therefore, spaces are more open and welcoming for them to excel. Having said this, there’s room for improvement and I wish that 10 years from now, (young) black women will be able walk into such spaces and to not feel like they are the only person who looks and sounds the way that they do. Until then, industries are not transformed. It’s incumbent on us to stay, so that other people can look up to us when they enter these spaces.

LM: What has your experience been, Being a young woman, with such a senior position, in a major political party in South Africa?

SG: There is such strength in being a young black women in my industry in this day and age because it allows me to have a different perspective and to be diverse in my contribution. I am managing people who are twice my age, and who have done certain things in set ways for longer periods of time, so it can be really difficult. Sometimes I do go home feeling hurt about one thing or another. But we have to fight some of these demons so that the people after us don’t have to.

LM: What do you do for fun? To relax?

SG: I hang out with my friends a lot! I love to travel, take long drives around South Africa – I have fallen in love with nature. I love being around my friends especially because they don’t necessarily ask me about work. So we can just be in our late 20s and chill!

My kitchen is my happy place, I love to entertain and to cook. And of course couch, Netflix and chill.

An oh! I love to work out. It helps keep me sane and keeps me balanced.

LM: What is the next step for you? What are dreams for yourself and for other young people in SA?

SG: Wooh! You never think about what your dream is, you’re always so focused on the next steps/goals *laughs*

I am trying to change the way we communicate as the DA for the 2019 elections. They are going be exciting and I look forward to being at the forefront. I also dream about being integral in terms of coming up with political strategies. So being in the political background and finding ways to positively influencing strategy. E.g. Strategic governance issues etc. There’s quite an opportunity in this realm, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.

South Africa is at a crossroads where we have been dragging around an injury for past 2 decades and it’s coming to a point where the injury is festering, people are tired and people want better. So we are at a point where we have a chance to create change, that with the ballot box. Creating more accountability for a maturing political environment, in which people will vote you in an out based on what you can and cannot do.

This means that more civic understanding should continue to be developed, which is incumbent on the political parties.  This will also be a product of where our country is at the moment, where South Africans want change and can see that it is possible to achieve this in a peaceful manner.

LM: How do we follow you?

SG: You can follow me on Twitter – @Siviwe_G

 

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Interview conducted by Lilitha Mahlati, an investment banker and founding member of Mbewu Movement. She describes herself as a gender and transformation activist who enjoys learning new languages and travelling the globe.

The Black Industrialist

The buzz word coming from South Africa’s development finance institutions seems to be, the black industrialists. With the growing movement of African consumers wanting to buy black, as well as platforms such as Brownsense who are pooling a network of black entrepreneurs, the timing of Mbewu Movement’s “Black Industrialist” Masterclass could not have been more pertinent. Furthermore, we successfully curated a conversation where a development financier and two young black industrialists shared insights on what it takes to cut it as a black industrialist. Our guest speakers included: Lerato Mangope (Head of Corporate Funding at the Industrial Development Corporation), Thabiso Molekwa (Black Industrialist and Founder of Embombi Lager) and Palesa Lephallo (Black Industrialist and Founder of AfricanLily Haircare).

According to the Department of Trade & Industry, “the concept of black industrialists refers to black people directly involved in the origination, creation, significant ownership, management and operation of industrial enterprises that derive value from the manufacturing of goods and services at a large scale; acting to unlock the productive potential of our country’s capital assets for massive employment locally.” In support of this, billions of financial resources have been allocated to supporting black entrepreneurs across targeted sectors (see below infographic).

Infographic

Source: Business Day

Whilst many might see these large sums of money and already start dreaming of rands and nairas, a key insight from the Lerato’s talk was the importance of being able to demonstrate that one is capable of owning and managing an enterprise when applying for funding. Having one’s own skin in the game is an indicator of this.

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On the topic of being able to manage one’s business operations and finances, Thabiso shared his personal journey of entrepreneurship. This included insights he remembered from being a young boy selling snacks at school for pocket money, from owning pubs around Johannesburg to losing them all due to mismanagement, then recovering from debt and failure to eventually chasing his dream of founding his own brewery. The pride that Thabiso has in his product today, is a reflection of the authenticity, ambition and resilience that makes the Embombi a craft beer that has a uniquely South African story to tell.

Palesa’s insights as an emerging black industrialist had more to do with understanding customer needs at a granular level and developing a solution that addresses these needs. Although reports show that black hair care is big business Palesa explained that black hair is not homogenous and consumers trust products that are known to deliver results. This is why she invests time with her clients to intimately understand their hair care needs and educate them on the benefits of her products.

What was encouraging about this particular Masterclass was the diversity of the audience, not just from a gender and age perspective, but from an industry perspective as well. So regardless of whether you are interested in filmmaking or pharmaceuticals, beer or beauty the era of the black industrialists has arrived and is likely to last into the long-term.

An Interview with Boipelo Mabe on Being an Unapologetic Youth

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As a young girl, I used to adore beauty pageants and watching Miss South Africa was an annual delight for my family and me. Fast forward to March 2012, at my first ever international women’s day event at work, and Miss South Africa 1992 Amy Kleinhans was the keynote speaker. I remembered her from my years of following Miss SA pageants, but beyond her face and her name, I didn’t know much more about her. While listening to her speech I was entranced by her story, and I developed a new perspective on what Miss SA meant during her era. At age 24, Amy was the first Miss SA of colour, and this was during a year when South Africa’s international sanctions were being lifted, white South Africans had voted in favour of ending apartheid in a referendum, and negotiations about the future of the country were being held against the backdrop of significant politically motivated massacres in our country’s history. It was a tense and uncertain time to be an ambassador for the country. But simultaneously, as the first Miss SA of colour, Amy was bound to have a strong stance on the state of the country. One of the defining moments in her reign was her refusal to wave the old South African flag during the international procession at Miss World- which sparked an array of positive and negative reactions from the public and the press. Nonetheless, there was no questioning her politics and she was unapologetic.

This year, I had the opportunity to speak at the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day event. Since I have not followed Miss SA in many years, I was unaware that I would be sharing the stage with the Miss SA 2nd Princess- Boipelo Mabe. When I met Boipelo I thought she was strikingly beautiful and, I was intrigued by her passion for current affairs and her career as a political analyst in broadcasting and media. But, when I listened to her share her personal journey with such authenticity, my appreciation for her grew much deeper. Boipelo is from very humble beginnings- she is the daughter of a taxi driver and as a child lived in a small shack built by her father in Ivory Park. Growing up under these circumstances would inevitably lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy, especially compounded by teasing and social pressure from others. But despite this, she performed exceptionally well academically and pursued a modelling career which led her to the Sun City Super Bowl. One of the defining moments in the 2017 pageant was when Boipelo spoke frankly about her personal experience of generational poverty and how she had to overcome the fear of not being able to achieve her dreams because of her family’s social status. Boipelo was not only speaking her own truth but the truth of the poor black youth who still dares to dream, 41 years on from Hector Pieterson’s murder. At that moment, there was no questioning her politics and she was unapologetic. In celebration of Youth month, we celebrate Boipelo Mabe.

MG: Let’s flash back to before the Miss SA pageant- seemingly you were already a mover and shaker at a tender  age- you had a profile in the media as a current affairs reporter, you had a modelling career, you were enrolled for a Masters in International Relations, you were active in the Alex community. Why did you decide to enter the Miss SA pageant?

BM: A lot of the major decisions I make are calculated and my entering of Miss South Africa at that stage of my career was nothing short of that. I really was enjoying my work but knew that I needed a little something ‘extra’ to really tap into the full potential of my skills and what I was exposed to. I believed that Miss South Africa provided that platform to firstly challenge myself on a personal level and to share my work on a broader platform, with a wider audience. It was an opportunity for me to effectively expand my network, knowledge and personal brand. Looking back, I am so happy and proud that I did it, I gained more from it than I had thought.

MG: What do you think ultimately made you stand out throughout the pageant? I imagine other contestants were also very talented and wanted the crown just as badly as you.

BM: My fellow contestants were such incredible women and I still draw a lot of inspiration from my engagements with each of them. They brought so much more to the pageant than just beauty. We all came with different motivations and strategies to the pageant and I believe what made me stand out was my openness about my personal story, background and journey that I unpacked right from the beginning. It was a continuation of what I had started even before the pageant when I began my media career and I simply used the pageant platform to refine and share it with more people. Little did I know that it would not only reach many people but that it would impact many more on a very personal level. My story of being raised by taxi driver, growing up in a township and rising above ‘inherited’ hardships along the way to achieve my dreams seemed to have resonated with South Africans in a way I did not expect.

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MG: What’s next for you? You’ve mentioned wanting to focus on moving on from the pageant and trying new things in your career. Does this mean we should expect to see you on CNN quite soon?

BM: Haha, I think at this point one is inclined to say that “big things popping” and without a doubt ‘BIG’ is where I want to go with my career. However, I am very careful not to rush it as I want to build a very solid foundation for myself where the big stuff will be planted. With that I mean that I am allowing myself to go through the process; learn as much as I can, go under the radar when I need to, explore and grow ‘organically’.

So next for me right now is firstly continuing with my studies, I’ve suspended my Masters in International Relations and I have registered for a Management Development Programme at a Business School. I want to be able to manage my brand as a business and understand the technicalities behind a successful organisation. I’ve also joined the corporate space, something very new and exciting for me. I am really just allowing myself to experience as much as I can and investing in myself along the way.

MG: I really respect how you are young and very engaged in current affairs and international relations. It reminds me of Eusebius McKaiser, who has said that he knew he wanted to change the face of political and social analysis and prove that it didn’t only have to be an older, white, male professor who had the most prominent voice in these debates, and that a younger, black person with an equally prominent voice could provide a nuanced perspective. Considering your background and humble upbringing, do you see yourself being as conscious about your public voice?

BM: Absolutely! And I believe my journey in Miss South Africa proved that. Sharing my story in the way that I did and being unapologetic about it was an intentional exercise of my public voice. On the crowning night of the pageant, I mentioned the experience of generational poverty– an issue that has never been raised in that manner on that kind of platform before. As a young black woman, I believe I have a responsibility to exercise my public voice, not only for me but for other black women especially those younger than me because there are still many ceilings in society that need to be broken.

Furthermore, I want to be a relevant voice in my generation thus education and keeping up with what is happening around the world from various perspectives is important to me. This is why I truly value learning, whether it be reading, a conversation with someone who has more experience than I do etcetera. Knowledge is power!

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MG: I imagine the last 12 months have been a whirlwind and also tested your character in new ways. What have been some of the challenges and lessons you’ve learnt from them? And, what’s the best advice you’ve received that’s helped you cope with your success?

BM: The biggest challenge was living with expectations of a title I had never had to deal with before; the expectations from loved ones, the community and the public at large; the assumption of instant success. I first had to acknowledge that the race was still mine and no one else’s and just had to trust the process and trust myself. At the same time, I had to acknowledge that that’s what the titles come with and to a certain extent, I had to be understanding of people’s reaction to my success to. That’s where I saw the power of humility.

The best advice that I’ve received is that given any circumstance in life, I always have a choice and that it’s up to me to make life better or worse for myself by what I choose. I always keep that in mind.

Boipelo’s story reminds me of the quote “we are we are the ones we have been waiting for.” It’s often an easy choice to look outwards for validation, direction, hope, identity, blame or pity, but looking inwards and being truly comfortable with yourself is a big step on the path to self-mastery. Challenge yourself to be unapologetic.

Article by: Magcino Gule | Mbewu Movement Founding Member

Magcino Gule holds a Master of Philosophy in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (University of Cape Town). She is an Executive Assistant in Financial Services

The Journey (Part II)

This is a two-part story about my journey from Med student to Marketing professional to where I am today (banking): the obstacles I’ve faced and the sacrifices I’ve had to make.

So there I was, nearly three years into a fruitful career in marketing, thinking about the next big biscuit whilst contemplating making a major career move to an industry that cared very little about biscuit innovation. I started plotting ways I could make this change and somehow all my efforts lead to one answer: I had to start from the bottom. So I did just that. I lodged my application for the graduate programme of one of the biggest banks in the world. I thought to myself, if I’m going to make this career sacrifice, I may as well do it with a giant!

I went through the various stages of the recruitment process which was concluded by a full day of assessments at the potential employer. While I had taken leave at work (faking illness was not an option because I respect karma) most of my counterparts were merely missing a day on campus. There was a handful of us who were already working but a majority of the interviewees were obviously students. One could argue that I had the added advantage of having work experience but considering that this was a completely different industry, I’d say my only advantage over others may have been level of maturity. Not to say that I wasn’t equally nervous, I was super anxious…and paranoid! So paranoid I freaked out that I was the only one not wearing red and/black, which also happened to be the company colours (I wore khaki formal pants and a crisp white shirt). I recall asking one of the candidates in a hushed tone if there was an email that had gone around on dress code that I may have missed. She said no and I calmed down (a bit).

I didn’t wait too long before I got that phone call; I received an offer! I was at work when I got the phone call and I casually went outside and tried not to look suspicious. I pretended it was a telemarketer selling me things I didn’t need. The offer came in at the end of September 2013 and I resigned from my job in November. After serving notice I took two weeks off just to wrap my head around the leap I had decided to take. The decision to start over. Why a graduate programme you may ask? Well outside of the theory I had covered in university, I knew very little about the real world of investment banking and I wanted to be a banker, not a marketing professional working in a bank. I also wanted to have the liberty of asking questions. I wanted to ensure that I had the right foundation so I could grow to be a credible banker.

Going in, I knew that there would be those obvious adjustments I would have to adapt to, like the more formal environment and business attire and of course, the complete switch from creative to numbers. What I didn’t expected was the funny lingo. I was familiar with certain terms that I had grasped in third year Finance like long vs. short position and bullish vs. bearish. What university didn’t teach me was the everyday jargon bankers throw around and assume everyone gets.images (1).jpg

I recall in the first meeting I attended, my manager was going through the pipeline. He said he was only interested in event, not flow business. Now I had no idea what flow business was but I just decided to “go with the flow” anyway (corny but I just had to). However, I knew all about planning events. That is what event business meant, right? Wrong! Contrary to my beliefs, ‘event business’ refers to the once off big deals, the sizable revenue generators while flow business is more of the expected and frequent transactional type business. Other terms I soon picked up were “add some colour” (add detail to a pitch), “beauty parade” (face to face client pitch), “face time” (sticking around till late and pretending to still be working – thank goodness I didn’t have to do this often) and “tombstone” (award for closing a particular deal with high level detail on that deal on the tombstone).

The most difficult thing about being on the graduate programme with three years of work experience in my pocket was probably the age gap. I was at least three years older than most of the graduates in the selected group. It felt like being that older guy (assuming I was male) in grade seven, with a beard and a Barry-White-deeper-than-everybody-else voice. Fortunately, I got along with the entire group of graduates and sometimes I would even forget that I was practically the age of these kids’ ancestors. I was 25 when I joined the programme. For my birthday that year I decided to take leave and go visit family in Sydney (Austrailia) so I wouldn’t have to deal with turning 26 in the presence of my colleagues. Australia is where everyone fled to in challenging times, right? Well I considered this a challenging time.

I started my career in Client Coverage where I worked with different Relationship Managers across sectors for the first nine months of that year. Although I found the experience valuable, it was nothing like the way the movies or books like Monkey Business portrayed Investment Banking. The hours were reasonable and the people were pretty chilled. At the end of September, during a company social function, our CEO asked me how I felt about spending some time in London. Let’s just say a month later I was in London. I moved to Debt Capital Markets (DCM)and spent three months working in Canary Wharf with the team covering the Central and Eastern Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa region. Although I had now been in banking for most of the year, I knew nothing about DCM but I found myself being roped into things from day one. I remember thinking “this time last year I sat in a strategy meeting thinking about creating a ground breaking biscuit (as ground breaking as biscuits can be) and here I am analysing orders during a bookbuild . Everything was ten times faster and I had to learn and do fast! I was part of an amazing team of mostly Brits and Eastern Europeans so I got to learn about different cultures as well.
By the time I came back to South Africa, I had grown and learnt so much! Those three months away felt like a year! I stayed in DCM, mostly doing deals for European clients which exposed me to a lot of different deals and taught me to manage workflow streaming from different time zones. I was starting to feel a bit more confident and comfortable in my new industry but still had this pressure that I needed to play catch up. My peers (the people I had graduated with) were three years ahead in their careers and even though I was doing pretty well and had received great opportunities through my work sponsors, I always had that at the back of my mind which stressed me out. I eventually adapted to “Own race, own lane” philosophy; to focus on my own journey, to embrace the choices I made and to find ways to improve myself holistically. Do I regret my decision? Not at all! I hear too often stories of people hating their jobs but not doing anything about it. Or some people who think they can’t follow a certain path because of the qualifications they hold or that it’s too late or that they are incapable. Incapable is simply an excuse we make when we’re too lazy to apply ourselves (note to self: stop that). If life is the sum of the parts of the choices we make then I’m pretty satisfied with mine; my life and choices.

Now in my fourth year in banking I can comfortably say that I am happy with the path I chose and didn’t wait 10 years to take the plunge and follow my heart. Eleven years ago I was busy with first year medicine thinking that I would be the next Dr. Quinn and here I am today crunching numbers when just four years ago I was munching biscuits.

That’s the story of my journey and I’m still on the road taking it one turn at a time.


 

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About the author:

Ziyanda Khumalo is a Johannesburg based Zulu girl, who is the reigning lip syncing champion in her neighbourhood and is an Investment Banker on the side. After spending three years as a Marketing professional, she decided to take a leap of faith and pursue a career in the financial industry. She can survive on minimal sleep provided she is fed ice cream at regular intervals. She is passionate about education and enjoys reading, working out and writing about stuff that is on her mind.

Twitter: @zeezilz || Instagram: @ziyandak || Blog: http://themegazeen.blogspot.com/

An Interview with Phumzile Sitole, a South African actor taking the US by storm

The first time I met Phumzile was on an impromptu trip to New Jersey, USA, to see South African jazz musician Vuyo Sotashe’s graduation performance, along with my childhood friend, Kenyan/Ethiopian South African raised theatre maker, Shariffa Ali. After that amazing day, I was so proud of these young South Africans who were, in their respective fields, blazing trails in the US and just couldn’t wait to report back when I returned home. Phumzile, small in stature with an outspoken and funny personality, did not surprise me when she told me studying at the Arts at Columbia University. Her passion for what she was doing was so evident and I left her knowing I should be looking out for her and that she was about to make waves.

Since then, in addition to completing her Master of Arts degree, Phumzile has made great leaps in making a name for herself in the industry, both on screen and on the stage. Recently, you would probably have seen her on The Good Fight, currently airing on MNet, and on LostFound, a Sundance short film. She will be playing Charmian in the Folger Theatre’s upcoming fall production of Antony and Cleopatra.

On my recent trip to the Big Apple, I caught up with this rising star.

LM: For those who don’t know Phumzile, tell us about yourself.

PS: I struggle with this question, it feels like any one thing I say needs 5 things to explain it further and so it becomes a maze and rabbit hole all at once. But simply, I’m a daughter, a sister an aunt
and a friend.

LM: What made you pursue an acting career, and who/what are you biggest influencers/inspirations in this regard?

PS: I’ve always been drawn to the stage. I started hip hop dancing when I was 4 years old and since then had always looked forward to our end-of-year dance concerts. Being on a stage with lights, costume, hair and makeup and people in the audience waiting in anticipation, has always felt familiar and thrilling for me.

With time, I started performing in school plays and that’s when scripts and stories started to take the place of choreography in my heart. I left the primary school I was in to go to St. Mary’s School for Girls, where they offered Drama and Zulu as matric subjects which was a priority of mine. My mother made that possible. Lots of tears and prayers got me to St. Mary’s and kept me there despite the financial difficulties my desires came with.

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Phumzile with actor Wendell Pierce

LM: Tell us about your journey in the US, what you have been up to and what your triumphs and challenges have been.

PS: I came to the US in pursuit of a Master’s degree in Acting. I got accepted to Columbia University in the City of New York and spent the three months before school started, trying to find money to finance the opportunity. The main challenge was staying in school and after my first year, money ran out and I went home during that holiday and it didn’t seem like I was going to make it back. But a friend of mine at Columbia offered me a place to live and her mom offered to pay the outstanding balance I had so that I could come back.

I lost my dad in a car accident during my first year. The time it took from getting off Face Time with my brother and walking into my house in Johannesburg felt like an eternity. That’s been the hardest part of my journey here. Life continues wherever in the world you choose to be. We are constantly sacrificing what could be with some for what you chose to be with others.

The friend whose mom offered to pay my balance had also lost her father a month before mine. Her mom said to me “I watched my daughter go through the pain of losing her dad, I could bear the thought of you losing him and your dream as well”
LM: As a black South African woman, what has your experience been navigating the acting scene in New York? How have you been received and what perspectives do you come with?

PS: So many. I am first on a visual level, I am first a black person in America. Which is currently and has never really been an easy thing. I think in some ways it has been great being able to break people’s assumptions as soon as I speak or I am asked where I’m from. It’s been a struggle for me to take on the American identity as my own, because a lot of the work I’m auditioning for requires me to do so.

I’m finding a balance and am clinging onto everything South African about me with all my might – It’s my blessing, my individuality, my strength. I would not forfeit it for the world.

Phumzile Sitole Quote

LM:  What do you suggest for someone coming after you, inspired by you, who would like to pursue a(n) (acting) career in a foreign country?

PS: Come with a large dose of perseverance! Some days feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain, some feel like you’re literally flying. But if you know that there’s nothing else you want to do in life, then do your research, come prepared and stay.

LM: Where will we see you next? Tell us how to keep up with your progress.

PS: I’m doing mostly theatre at the moment, so right now I’m looking forward to being at the Folger Theatre in DC, starring in Antony and Cleopatra. Other than that, I’m auditioning a bunch and looking forward to whatever comes my way.

To follow Phumzile’s whereabouts, visit her official website – www.phumzilesitole.com

                          

Lilitha Jideka Shoot.jpg

 

Interview conducted by Lilitha Mahlati, an investment banker and founding member of Mbewu Movement. She describes herself as a gender and transformation activist who enjoys learning new languages and travelling the globe.

 

 

Navigating Corporate Bullshit- as a (black) female

You know you are borderline old when things you learnt in PSYCH101 in first year of university eleven years ago start making sense? (Lol). One of many Sigmund Freud theories is that; your conditioning as a human being, your experiences between the ages of 1-5 years old are the most important in shaping the human being you become at a later stage in life.

When I think back to what I (can possibly) remember for most of my life, being raised by a single parent- my mother, brother, aunts and uncles in my immediate space adored me. I had (have) a number of nicknames, I was incredibly shy growing up and I found joy in doing things for others. Now- what kind of an adult do I believe this has turned me into?… A love-full, conscientious, serving human being where this is required of me.

Let us talk a bit about work spaces- you agree to signing an employment contract; which pretty much dictates how you will live your life over an agreed amount of hours over a certain time period of your life. We all know theory does not translate flawlessly into reality…not where human beings who are informed and conditioned by circumstances worlds apart from each other converge. BUT- this is where things like being “professional”, having a “corporate/organizational” culture, having “values” etc. comes into play. There are number of (BULLSHIT) issues that come with shared spaces where people who do not have shared values converge. This is why wars exist, this is why people form empires/cliques, this why “hierarchies” are (BULLSHIT) important.

Give someone who did not experience love growing up some authority over a combination of human beings and watch the movie unfold…just watch. You know, I attended a gathering an evening not too long ago, and a lady said: “the way we are raised and conditioned as black (females) folk, does not prepare us for (white) corporate spaces…we do not speak up, we use respectful prefixes to the names of elders like we do at home (uncle this, aunt this, sis that, ma that)…”…my interpretation of this anecdote is- whilst trying to climb this monstrously steep mountain thing (called corporate), as black folk (regardless of background), your starting point is equivalent to carrying say six- to- ten of those large travel suitcases; what we call “umthwalo” in the Nguni dialect. Now- every single person has a perception about you, every single person shares these perceptions with people they trust who share it with people they trust and in no time…a stew of perceptions has brewed about any and everybody in this organisational/corporate space you all have to share.

How does one genuinely lead or be genuinely led when we are operating off:

1. Childhood construction (playing out)
2. Different loads “imithwalo” (we are each carrying)
3. Perceptions (right or wrong)

What has completely thrown me off in my seven years of working (five in two different corporates and two in a small enterprise) is that this type of behaviour is projected by the majority of individuals you meet in organisation/corporate spaces; by individuals at all levels. Now remember- there is a perception that individuals at different levels of the corporate food chain behave differently. This is where I always go wrong in life- it does not mean the higher you go the better the behaviour up the corporate food chain (oooh child!)…HUMANS!

FUN FACTS:
– I am a sensitive person; this does not make me a weak person
– I do take the other persons mental and emotional space into account before I open my mouth
– I am aware of some of the perceptions people (in corporate) have about me
– I am exhausted of the insensitive BULLSHIT that comes with organisational spaces

Give a loving, intelligent (not necessarily intellectual), ambitious, self-actualised person power and give a non-loving, intelligent, ambitious, non self-actualised person the same power and observe how the scenarios play out. You know how people can “tell” at first engagement whether a couple is genuinely happy or whether a home is a loving versus a cold home-in the same vein, environments that these two different type of humans “lead”/”steer” is distinct.

A peer who works in a different company in the same industry (financial services) was sharing her experiences with her boss; she said: “before each meeting, he asks me and encourage me to have 3-5 key speaking points in the meeting, he will then expand on my points by saying as *To add to what *Lizeka said, I think…, he refers to me as *his colleague in meetings, not as *this is the girl that works for me…”…the rest of us who were listening to her speak- eyes popped out and jaws almost on the floor had never experienced such…well I had experienced a similar leadership style twice before in my seven years of working.

Tell me; why do tertiary institutions and society mainly gear us up to enter into a workforce where we will encounter mental and spiritual abuse on a daily basis?…*White people do not view you as equals, senior people do not take you seriously because you are “young and inexperienced”, other black women see you as “useless” because you happen to know less than them in certain instances…why do we put ourselves through this?…why?…

The only things in my survival kit in seven years are:
– I come from love and nothing, no one, no experience will change my true nature,
– Find a mentor who is: present for your growth, for guiding you and supporting you in dealing with challenges that are a part of navigating life, who will connect you to opportunities he/she may feel you are ready for,
– Have a friend/colleagues that lighten the load and remind you of: who you are, your dreams and goals and that everything is a temporary state.

Honour your truth dear friends, be cautious how you make others feel with your words and actions; especially when roles of a higher order are bestowed upon you.