On 6 August, Young Corporate Leaders hosted its very first women of worth event since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This is an annual event where speakers focus on a specific theme. This year’s theme was Becoming, which according to the current events coordinator of YCL, Mahlodi Leseka, was inspired by Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming. The event was opened by program director, Kirsten Dickenson, who quoted the Becoming memoir saying “now I think it is one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child- What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is infinite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”
Kamogelo Lesebe, the director of YCL, said that the society was founded by men whose primary mandate was to impart knowledge and skills that would make sure that businesses are pioneered by the youth but most importantly, that these businesses are sustainable. Their transformative action was to include women which Lesebe, who was the only woman at the time, was then a part of. She is now proud of the fact that four out of seven executive members in the committee are women.
The keynote speaker for the day was UP alumni Palesa Tlholoe, a financial planner, co-founder and wealth manager at Imvelo Wealth Solutions. Tlhohoe started with her favorite quote from Marrianne Williamson which says that “our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.” She went on to talk about her upbringing and hardships she faced as a young girl from the villages in Eastern Cape up to her time studying at the University of Pretoria.
After the keynote speaker, all the ladies present were encouraged to grab drinks and network. This was followed by a panel discussion, where the panel was made up of co-founders and wealth managers at Wealth Creed, Gugu Sidaki and Palesa Dube, founder and managing director of Duma Collective, Sibu Mabena and founder and managing director of NSN, Saneli Ngcobo.
The first discussion was on how the women on the panel got into entrepreneurship and the different challenges they faced when starting out. Mabena, who is in entertainment and marketing, shared how being young, black and female in an industry dominated by male figures in positions of power has taught her how to negotiate her seat at the table and later found herself wondering whether her employees would react the same way they do to her if she were male. Sidaki, who is into finance shared that she notices the change from having older white males in positions of power to having more younger people who are not only clients but advisors themselves and finds that encouraging.
SRC president, Thuto Mashile, thanked the YCL for the wonderful and ‘necessary’ event, the panellists and all students who attended. She hopes from here going forward all the females will “empower each other, support each other, be kind to each other and ensure that they support each other in all issues.”
Student feedback from the event:
Kutullo Rantloka who is a third-year student in financial science felt like “she was brought to reality.” As the Commercii sports EC meember she recognizes that being in a leadership position is not easy and finds it hard to manoeuvre around things, but she learnt that everything takes time and hard work. Most importantly, she learnt to not feel guilty for putting herself first. However, she was disappointed that the focus was on the financial sector and after meeting other students she noticed that their needs were not catered for such as those doing plant science and engineering.
Reabetswe Mmutle attended the event for the purpose of taking a day off by socialising and to learn on Becoming. While Lindelwa Shongwe attended for the purpose of growth and to draw inspiration from the speakers.