Women in the public sector
National Treasury’s Tshepiso Moahloli travels the world in search for investments for SA
Tshepiso Moahloli travels the world in search of investment for South Africa. As the Chief Director for Liability Management with the National Treasury, Moahloli's job is to make sure that government is well funded so that it can provide for the needs of its citizens.The money raised funds the most needed of services and development projects in infrastructure, health and education, among others.
“I am responsible for financing the government's gross borrowing requirement through the issuing of government securities, managing national government debt optimally, contributing to the development of the domestic debt capital market, and broadening the investor base by developing and maintaining relations with both domestic and foreign investors,” she says.
The 35-year-old, the first woman to occupy the position, previously held by the likes of Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago, stresses that her job comes with a huge responsibility.
Most of the national government debt is raised in the domestic and international capital markets, which are influenced by many factors, she explains. “A huge amount of the debt that has been raised over the years is due to difficult economic conditions.”
Her aim is to reach a point where “we start reducing the debt to ensure debt sustainability and reduced debt burden for future generations”.
The economy specialist holds a Master of Economic Science degree from the University of Witwatersrand and is currently pursuing an Executive MBA at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Business.
Stumbling into finance
A career in the financial sector was not by design, she says, but was something she stumbled into. “I studied economics up to Masters level and thought I would be running economic models and making forecasts as my day job – but that did not happen.”
She did initially work in the competition and regulatory space, and “while interesting, I found it to be quite micro-focussed. I always enjoyed the macroeconomic policy aspects more”.
So when the opportunity to join the National Treasury came, Moahloli did not ask where and why, or pigeonhole herself. “I just went for it and saw it as an exploratory mission, which has been ongoing for the past seven years.”
Moahloli has held various positions within the National Treasury, including being the analyst for Foreign Debt Management, the Director for Debt Issuance and Management, and the Director for Foreign Debt Management.
Creating role models
Although Moahloli did not think of her role in terms of gender when she was appointed, she says that being in her position has inspired her to consciously hire women to create an equitable pipeline for succession planning for the role. In addition, it contributes to having more women role models in positions that were mostly occupied by males.
“I believed I was competent and
“Women need to be aware of the challenges they face and take a leading role in driving the
felt proud that the organisation believed that I could do this important job. It was only recently, when I was at an event where most of the former holders of the role were present and someone suggested we take a picture, that it dawned on me that I was the only female.”
While her field is still male dominated, the trend is improving, Moahloli says. “Women still have to push a lot to be recognised for their worth.” Time and again she is reminded that she is a female in the profession. “In meetings women still get interrupted a lot − man-interruptions, as coined by the Harvard Business Review.
“Broadly, and I am sure it is across various fields, women need to be aware of the challenges they face and take a leading role in driving the redress.”
She recalls a 2014 trip with male colleagues to the Middle East: “I had to get permission in advance to be in some of the meetings, dress in a certain way − the only part of my body visible was my face. Although pre-warned, it was still such a shock. Something my colleagues would not have to worry about.”
Leading the team to greatness
She is very proud of leading a team that executes award-winning bond transactions in the local and international capital markets. “Best issuer awards in the local capital market year in and year out. In 2016, we were able to execute two transactions to the tune of US$4.25 billion in the international capital market under difficult market conditions and all won awards for best structuring and execution.”
Another of Moahloli's successes was being part of the team that worked on the issuance of the debut Islamic Bond (Sukuk) for the Republic of South Africa in 2014.“I was actively involved from regulatory and tax changes; appointment of lead arrangers; sourcing of the assets to structure the transaction, which involved extensive consultations and negotiations; and marketing of the transaction in the UK, Middle East and Asia.”
The four-year process culminated into an issuance of the US$500 million bond over more than five years “With the issuance, National Treasury was able to set a new benchmark for other issuers, diversify its funding sources and investor base.”
Challenges on the job
One of the challenges she experiences is to assure investors South Africa remains a viable investment destination. “In an environment mired by market, political and economic uncertainties that becomes a daunting challenge.
“Organisations, including mine, are responding to the difficult economic environment by cutting costs, which in turn puts pressure on financial and human resources and forces organisations to do more with less and still achieve the objectives.”
Government is a huge machinery and for it to work cohesively, collaboration is critical in delivering the services to the people, Moahloli says. “This continuously poses a challenge to public sector managers, including myself, to continuously build skills and capacity to respond adequately.”
Proudly part of National Treasury
Moahloli is a proud member of the National Treasury team. She says the organisation provides a dynamic, exciting environment in which to work. “The work is interesting and thought provoking. The people are smart, relevant and are mostly there because they choose to be there and they want to be there.”
The National Treasury attracts diverse people and has a mixture of young and senior people. “Employees work hard and are proud of the work they do and the impact they are making.”
She has some advice for young people wanting to enter the profession; they must be willing to put the effort, time and passion needed to participate in any sector. “Be clear about your goals and most importantly ask for help where needed and enlist the support of mentors.”
For anyone to get to where she is today, they need focus, determination, dedication, passion and, most importantly, support of family, colleagues and mentors, Moahloli adds. “I met great people along the way who really helped steer my ship in the right direction when it mattered the most.”
She pays tribute to her mother and late grandmother for their tenacity and vision. “They were not educated but they valued education and understood the equalising power it commands. They did not only value education of the mind but of the heart as well, which is the essence of humanity.”
Writer: Noluthando Motswai