YOLISA PHAHLE

Finweek English Edition - - TOP WOMEN -

CEO OF M-NET SOUTH AFRICA Phahle is a clas­si­cally trained mu­si­cian who has worked as a teacher, tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter and a stu­dio man­ager and se­nior pro­ducer for the BBC. She is the first black woman to hold the top po­si­tion at M-Net South Africa. As the di­rec­tor of lo­cal gen­eral en­ter­tain­ment chan­nels, Phahle launched the VUZU and Mzansi Magic chan­nels, which she counts as her ca­reer high­light. There are two things, the first be­ing ed­u­ca­tion. I was awarded mu­sic schol­ar­ships as a child and had ac­cess to ex­cel­lent ed­u­ca­tion, the best teach­ers and mu­si­cians. The big break in my ca­reer came af­ter join­ing my first band, the Reg­gae Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra. The founder had an am­bi­tion to cre­ate mu­sic with young, black, clas­si­cal­ly­trained mu­si­cians. Af­ter mov­ing from the UK to SA, and join­ing M-Net, I was given the op­por­tu­nity to make new chan­nels for new au­di­ences. It has been a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity. The fact that my par­ents recog­nised that I was tal­ented in mu­sic – they tried hard to ex­pose me to the best mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion. If any­body is good at some­thing, whether it’s mu­sic or com­put­ers, to be suc­cess­ful you need to fol­low the 10 000-hour rule. Be­ing a mu­si­cian is great when you are 18 or 21, but I had no aca­demic or vo­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion. When I wanted to move into busi­ness, it proved quite a chal­lenge. Even­tu­ally I got my MBA – that feels great. Another chal­lenge was when I pitched my vi­sion for a lo­cal en­ter­tain­ment chan­nel, Mzansi. The first time I was re­jected, and it was dif­fi­cult for me. Mzansi rep­re­sents so much of what I be­lieve in – to tell lo­cal sto­ries in lo­cal lan­guages. I went back and re­vised my idea and pre­sented it in a bet­ter way. I am glad I didn’t give up.

THE EN­TER­TAIN­MENT IN­DUS­TRY IS DIF­FI­CULT TO BREAK INTO. WHAT DID YOU DO DIF­FER­ENTLY TO SET YOU APART? WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIG­GEST DIF­FI­CULTY THAT YOU’VE HAD TO OVER­COME?

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