CHAM­PI­ONS of change

The an­nual In­vestec Women in Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence was a gath­er­ing of great minds – and deeply per­sonal lessons

Destiny - - Notebook -

The con­fer­ence was themed “En­Act”, in ref­er­ence to the cham­pi­ons of change it as­sem­bled on stage in hon­our of both the late Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela and Ma Al­bertina Sisulu’s cen­te­nar­ies this year. Hosted by In­vestec’s Head of the Pub­lic Sec­tor & Black Busi­ness Port­fo­lio, Peggy-Sue Khu­malo and Katy Katepodis, the panel in­cluded busi­ness­woman and incoming Chan­cel­lor of Wits Uni­ver­sity, Dr Judy Dlamini, con­sul­tant, en­trepreneur and au­thor Dr Shirley Zinn, di­rec­tor Lauren Se­gal, out­go­ing In­vestec CEO Stephen Kos­eff and self-pro­claimed “en­trepreneur­ship ac­tivist” Matsi Modise. Pow­er­ful lessons of per­sonal and in­sti­tu­tional change arose, al­though Kos­eff pierced the se­ri­ous air with self-di­rected jabs about his “easy life”.

Dlamini was hugely in­spir­ing, de­scrib­ing how much joy it gave her to en­able those around her. “Chang­ing your­self is also about chang­ing the peo­ple within your zone of in­flu­ence,” she said. “Be­cause I’m so pas­sion­ate about self-de­vel­op­ment, I en­sure that the peo­ple I em­ploy are given the op­por­tu­nity to change too. One of the women I em­ployed as a re­cep­tion­ist is now in charge of a ware­house.” She added, al­most un­be­liev­ably, that she strug­gled to over­come painful, in­her­ent shy­ness to be­come a pub­lic speaker be­cause “life changed me”.

“When your con­text changes, it in­flu­ences you and it’s up to you to go with the flow. That’s where you get op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow as a per­son.”

Zinn spoke of the heart­break of los­ing her seven-year-old son in a car ac­ci­dent in 2003. “I tell you this be­cause we all have a story. We all have dif­fi­cult times and for us, that was the most dev­as­tat­ing time,” she said. “I had to get help – which is

some­thing we of­ten don’t do be­cause we think we’re su­per­women, so we keep go­ing. But some­times we have to put our hand up and ask for help be­cause we need to find ways to work through things. Cer­tain things you can never get over. For me, it was about liv­ing life with mean­ing and fo­cus af­ter that ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause it couldn’t be busi­ness as usual.”

Modise, MD of SiMODiSA, re­called be­ing a ju­nior In­vestec staffer in the client ser­vice cen­tre and, on her se­cond day at the or­gan­i­sa­tion, walk­ing up to Khu­malo’s of­fice and ask­ing to be her mentee. The two re­main firm friends.

“I was ex­posed to a lot of big num­bers in that job and I re­mem­ber say­ing to my­self: ‘I want to be on that side, mak­ing all this money!

“The one thing you must con­stantly re­mem­ber in your ca­reer is why you make cer­tain de­ci­sions. For me, it’s my mother. She’s sac­ri­ficed and lost a lot and through all of that, I’ve gained a lot. So the main thing for me now is em­pow­er­ing her so she doesn’t have to strug­gle any more.”

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