Le­gal lu­mi­nary

Sbu Gule’s CV is al­most in­tim­i­dat­ing. As CEO of Nor­ton Rose Ful­bright SA and Pres­i­dent of the Law So­ci­ety of the North­ern Prov­inces (LSNP), he’s one of the coun­try’s great­est le­gal as­sets to­day


My in­spi­ra­tion to suc­ceed was fed by my par­ents. I grew up in a fam­ily who took education very se­ri­ously. Grow­ing up, I was very re­served and shy. I iden­ti­fied that weak­ness and worked on over­com­ing it. The se­cret to re­duc­ing anx­i­ety, I found, is be­ing fully pre­pared.

My ca­reer has ex­posed me to a va­ri­ety of law firms over the years. From small to big, across dif­fer­ent spe­cialisms, these col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ences taught me the many nu­ances in­volved in suc­cess­fully run­ning a law firm.

My ap­point­ment as Nor­ton Rose Ful­bright SA’s Chair­man gave me ac­cess to global coun­ter­parts and ex­panded my knowl­edge of how law firms are run glob­ally. My sub­se­quent Global Chair­man ap­point­ment ac­quainted me with prac­ti­tion­ers from across our 52 of­fices glob­ally.

To be a good lawyer, you also need to un­der­stand your clients. As Global Chair­man, I in­ter­acted with clients and se­nior ex­ec­u­tives of ma­jor com­pa­nies around the world.

My tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise lies in labour law, a pas­sion I dis­cov­ered when I be­came in­volved in em­ploy­ment and labour law, dur­ing my ar­ti­cles. I went on to join Mathe & Zondo (then owned by cur­rent Deputy Chief Jus­tice Ray­mond Zondo), a recog­nised labour lawyer who rep­re­sented trade unions. I learnt a great deal of my labour law from him.

The trade union move­ment was in­stru­men­tal in us­ing the work­place to en­force hu­man rights. My in­ter­est lay not only in as­sist­ing the unions with labour and em­ploy­ment mat­ters, but also in con­tribut­ing to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle by pro­mot­ing the rights of the work­ers.

I have a very well de­vel­oped EQ and am able to tran­scend all bar­ri­ers when deal­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple. What I truly en­joy about what I do is tak­ing on a chal­lenge. I de­rive a great deal of sat­is­fac­tion from achiev­ing re­sults, es­pe­cially through team­work. I sub­scribe to Nel­son Man­dela’s no­tion that “some­thing al­ways seems im­pos­si­ble un­til it’s done”.

I’d like to make Nor­ton Rose Ful­bright SA a place that cre­ates op­por­tu­ni­ties for those want­ing to en­ter the le­gal fra­ter­nity and en­ables them to join large law firms such as ours, so that they can be­come in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers.

To progress, you need a sup­port­ive fam­ily to help you achieve your as­pi­ra­tions. Most im­por­tantly, though, you need to be your own per­son. Shape your life in ac­cor­dance with your strengths and per­sonal at­tributes. If you do these things, suc­cess is in­evitable.

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