On 7 February 2014, members of Mbewu Movement met with CEO of Shanduka Group, Phuti Mahanyele to discuss and share views on “Perspectives on Success”. This meeting was different to previous mentor meetings that have been organised by the founding members, as this time the meeting was open for friends outside of Mbewu to attend and share the experience.
Phuti walked us through her career and life journey and the successes and challenges that have shaped her into the leader that she is today. Here are a few of her tenets that we had the privilege of learning:
Be selfish now, so you can contribute more meaningfully in the future
Selfish? I’m sure you’re wondering how on earth this could be viewed as good advice, but it is. Phuti learned that hard work and drive early on in one’s career will build the foundations of your future meaningful contribution to others both in the workplace and society. The most important thing is to focus on yourselves and equip yourselves to lead and make an impact so that you aren’t shaken when big opportunities come along. Even if it means going abroad for a period of time and then coming back with a new perspective on how you plan to make a difference.
Be your own competition
Always give your best and be on your A-game because you never know who is watching and who could propel your career to heights you may have not imagined. She pointed out that her opportunities have come to her as opposed to her looking for her opportunities, and this is because she always worked her hardest and maintained positive and authentic relationships.
Get to know yourself and your God
We are given so much more choice as young women in today’s society and with choice often comes confusion, doubt and frustration.
“Is this the right job for me?”
“Am I really following MY dream or someone else’s?”
Phuti advises us to develop a relationship with our inner selves and have honest conversations to get to the right answer. Ultimately the answer must come from within. On your relationship with God, she emphasised the importance of spirituality and how having intimate conversations with God has guided her in making her decisions and tested her thinking. An example of this was when she was at a cross-road in her career and then received a call from Cyril Ramaphosa to join Shanduka, her subsequent conversations with God was what lead her to where she is today.
Take your time…but use it wisely
We are a generation that wants NOW, acts NOW, acquires NOW. Unlike our parents’ generation and our grandparents before them, we have little patience to wait for 15-20 years before we are CEO’s.
So what is an acceptable tenure to stay in a company before we make our next move?
It is important to develop your knowledge of your industry, Phuti advises, the time it takes to do this varies. But you must maximise on the experience and apply yourself to the industry. That is not to say that one must stay 3 years before moving on but if you do leave within a year, then make sure you have made that year count. It is also important to understand what your value is and be assertive about asking for what makes sense in terms of your earnings. Speaking to influential people within the industry also helps in giving a different perspective which may defer your departure.
On office politics Kill them with success and bury them with a smile
Phuti advises that you can’t make adjustments for others, especially when they are a negative influence in your life, it’s too much effort. Make sure your behaviour is appropriate and positive, you don’t need to take part in negative and inappropriate behaviour. Also building relationships within the organisation is helpful so that your advocates will always defend your character to the naysayers in your absence.
Network. Engage. Participate
Joining various organisations helped Phuti in building a network and forming relationships with a broader group of people and then making connections from that broader group. Although she didn’t necessarily join these organisations for that purpose, broadening her network was one of the outcomes.
Thank you to our guests who attended the session, looking forward to seeing you at our future events!