What do you do at Coronation and what experience led you to this role?
By profession, I am a chartered accountant with 11 years of experience at various financial services institutions. I studied at UCT, where I also completed my academic articles. I have worked in Cape Town, Johannesburg and a number of African cities. Throughout my career, I have focused on the dual disciplines of accounting and tax.
Grit and inspiration
What drove you to succeed?
I have always been goal oriented, and focused on my career and growing as a person. There are sacrifices that need to be made in order to succeed. I moved to Lagos, Nigeria for a nearly two-year stint in an organisation and country I knew nothing about. It turned out to be one of the most pivotal growth periods in my career. My philosophy is that, if it scares you, then you should do it - growth doesn’t happen in our comfort zones.
What built your resilience?
It comes from the belief that I can make a difference and knowing that growth does not come without setbacks. There is a deep call within me, instilled by my parents, that our greatest legacy is leaving the world a better place than you found it - even in one’s small little pond. I want to make a difference by supporting worthy causes, especially those related to education, being an accessible role model through my journey, and to be a voice for those who are not at the tables I have the privilege of sitting at.
My journey has not been linear, there have been ups and downs and I have had my share of setbacks. I have not always succeeded in my first attempt at many of my goals, but I have never allowed that to stop me from trying again. I take a breath, feel the disappointment, learn from what has occurred, and, then, push forward. Growth is not comfortable; you do not succeed overnight. Hard work and determination are key, but you also have to learn from others and create a support system, including mentors, advisors, experts, family and friends, that will be your anchor and safe space on the journey.
Shoulders of giants
Who was a major influence for you growing up?
My mother has been the biggest influence in my life. She is the strongest woman I know, and her leadership model is one that I have adopted and evolved into my own brand of leadership. She is an empathetic and inclusive leader, who also taught me that the weight of leadership is a privilege not to be taken lightly. Emotional intelligence matters when leading people and supporting them in fulfilling their potential and achieving common goals.
Who have been your career mentors?
I have been lucky to have had strong leaders who have groomed me in my career. The first notable being Arina McDonald, a pioneering woman in the financial services industry. She entrenched in my psyche that hard work is the cornerstone of success and the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will stretch you. She is an inclusive, in-the-trenches-with-you type of leader, who you would go to war with. As I grow in my career, I aspire to mentor young women in the same way.
Secondly, Ronald Pfende, who at the time was the CFO of Stanbic IBTC, ignited my deep passion for the Africa Rising dream and invited me to my Lagos adventure. He opened his door to me for vigorous debates, shared books, provided ‘tough love’ when it was needed, and truly embodied the open-door philosophy to mentorship.
At Coronation, employee ownership is a big part of our culture, what does this mean to you?
It means having an ownership mentality, including a single-minded focus on delivering excellence, always focusing on improving client service and being cost conscious.
We place high value on integrity in all that we do. What does integrity mean to you, personally and for the business?
I recently heard a quote from Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, “Trust is like oxygen: easily taken for granted and overlooked, but little else matters if it is no longer there.” Trust must be consistently displayed based on our actions rather than any words we can say and is easy to lose. Trust is the cornerstone of our business, without it, we would not exist. ‘Trust is earned’ is not a marketing slogan, it is key to our culture.
What do you think needs to change in the mindset of working women?
I think women need to back themselves to know they belong in the any of the spaces they wish to occupy. Although the glass ceiling is very real, we are at a time in history when we are pushing significantly to shatter this ceiling and redefine the role of women in the workplace and our society.
What advice would you give women entering the workplace now?
Pause for a moment and appreciate yourself for the steps you have taken to get here. It’s important to acknowledge your wins along the way. Ask yourself what you aspire to, and what your dreams are, and hold on to them, but not so closely that you don’t allow for evolution. Your education was the starting point and it doesn’t end with your degree; it’s a lifelong process. Identify people who can support your growth and approach them - most will be willing to give input. Believe in yourself and hold true to your northern star.