Youth

Nakedi Ramaphakela (29) is prob­a­bly one of the youngest fi­nance di­rec­tors of a South African multi­bil­lion-rand com­pany, yet her self-as­sur­ance and quiet wisdom be­lie her youth, writes

CityPress - - Business -

In­spi­ra­tion: Life les­son:

When char­tered ac­coun­tant Nakedi Ramaphakela was made fi­nance di­rec­tor of Royal Bafo­keng Hold­ings in July, it brought to­gether her life phi­los­o­phy – that of com­mu­nity car­ing – and her skills as an ac­coun­tant.

Ramaphakela works for the sov­er­eign wealth fund of Royal Bafo­keng Hold­ings that has as­sets un­der man­age­ment of about R30 bil­lion.

Royal Bafo­keng Hold­ings, which is wholly owned by the Royal Bafo­keng Na­tion, is a fas­ci­nat­ing com­pany with an in­ter­est­ing his­tory that dates back to 1834.

Back then, Kgosi Au­gust Mok­ga­tle ad­vised his peo­ple to pool their re­sources to buy back, from white colo­nial­ists, the land the Bafo­keng had cul­ti­vated for cen­turies.

Ex­traor­di­nar­ily, the world’s largest de­posits of plat­inum group met­als were dis­cov­ered on the land in 1924.

The Bafo­keng in­vested the wealth they earned in roy­al­ties from the min­ing in­dus­try – af­ter apartheid ended – through smart in­vest­ments.

These have been used to, among other things, build a 45 000-seat sta­dium and ath­let­ics com­plex, and build clin­ics and roads.

“I work with ev­ery de­part­ment here, rang­ing from sup­port­ing the in­vest­ment strat­egy to com­mu­ni­ca­tions, gov­er­nance and so on,” says Ramaphakela as we sit in the mas­sive board­room at the com­pany’s swanky of­fice in Mel­rose Arch, Jo­han­nes­burg.

She adds: “Our port­fo­lio value is big­ger than some of the com­pa­nies that are listed on the JSE. Our phi­los­o­phy lies in diver­si­fi­ca­tion across as many sec­tors as pos­si­ble.”

Ramaphakela comes from a risk man­age­ment and gov­er­nance per­spec­tive, de­spite “ac­coun­tants be­ing, by nature, very risk averse”.

“We in­vest in Africa and off­shore – in min­ing, prop­erty, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture.”

Ramaphakela ad­mits that there are chal­lenges in­volved in be­ing as young as she is.

“It’s dif­fi­cult for women to ma­noeu­vre through the cor­po­rate world at the best of times. Add my age to that and, yes, it can be tricky.” She can sense when peo­ple are un­com­fort­able in her pres­ence “by their body lan­guage. But I al­ways rely on my solid work ethic, which in­cludes re­search­ing and learn­ing about every­thing I am deal­ing with.”

She’s study­ing for her char­tered fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst ex­ams at the mo­ment. She has one level left to take, “and then I will have this glob­ally recog­nised cer­tifi­cate for in­vest­ment spe­cial­ists”, she ex­plains. Ramaphakela was born in Soweto, where she lived for a while with her grand­par­ents. She cred­its her en­er­getic en­tre­pre­neur­ial grand­mother, who sold veg­eta­bles and clothes, owned a cast­ing agency and was an ac­tress who loved to tell Se­pedi sto­ries, for her own “getup-and-go” at­ti­tude.

Ramaphakela grew up in Pre­to­ria and ma­tric­u­lated from Pro Arte Alphen Park High School in 2004.

“I loved drama and chess, and was think­ing of be­com­ing a so­cial worker or jour­nal­ist be­fore ac­cept­ing that I had a strong an­a­lyt­i­cal mind.”

She ob­tained her bach­e­lor of ac­count­ing sci­ence de­gree at Wits Univer­sity and she grad­u­ated with hon­ours in tax­a­tion be­fore be­com­ing a char­tered ac­coun­tant in 2012. She was an as­sis­tant man­ager at Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers (PwC) when she was sent to Hous­ton in the US, “where I learnt a great deal. But I also no­ticed there were few, if any, black women work­ing in cor­po­rate Amer­ica.”

She was deal­ing with pre­dom­i­nantly white men who were set in their ways.

“There was a male African-Amer­i­can col­league who was work­ing at a lower level than me, but peo­ple still ad­dressed all their re­marks to him and not to me.”

She chuck­les at the rec­ol­lec­tion of an­other learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

But “once they re­alised that I knew what I was talk­ing about, they be­gan to ac­cept me”.

While she was still work­ing for PwC, Royal Bafo­keng Hold­ings ap­proached her.

It is typ­i­cal of her mea­sured ap­proach to life that Ramaphakela asked lots of ques­tions about her growth path be­fore mak­ing her de­ci­sion to join

them. Tal­ent is Never Enough by John C Maxwell. It’s about lead­er­ship, busi­ness and life. Women in gen­eral who do amaz­ing things.

Wow! mo­ment:

Be­ing ap­pointed to Royal Bafo­keng Hold­ings. Life is a jour­ney about growth and self-dis­cov­ery that never ends. To­day, she is thrilled that she can work both in fig­ures and anal­y­sis, as well as go to Pho­keng and its en­vi­rons to “help paint crèches and be in­volved in com­mu­nity work”. She re­laxes with her engi­neer hus­band and their daugh­ter, Oratile (3), by swim­ming with them in sum­mer and watch­ing TV, “even the Kar­dashi­ans”.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

Nakedi Ramaphakela

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