Women in the pub­lic sec­tor

Public Sector Manager - - Contents -

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

re­dress.”

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

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