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Head: Transaction Banking South Africa, Corporate and Investment Banking
Why is “Why she leads” important?
With empirical evidence, the platform demonstrates that we can lead successful businesses, instead turning the question into ‘Why not her’? in a very unapologetic way. We have an opportunity to share the challenges we’ve overcome, giving hope to women that it can be done.
What have been the biggest contributors to your success?
I spent a lot of my time with my father in my childhood. He believed in me so much and shaped my thinking and life outlook. He raised me with so much love and would tell me every day, “You know, Thandiwe, you are a very capable individual, just like a man. You can be anything you want to be in the world if you set your mind to it.” My dad’s teachings set me up for success and my hard work paid off.
Is corporate culture today more supportive of young women in the position you were once in?
Yes, there’s more understanding now of the compromises women have to make. In our environment, we accommodate women, encourage them to take longer maternity leave, and promote them while they’re on maternity leave. We’re also very comfortable with a hybrid working environment – your output is important, not your presence at work.
Why is it important to support women and create work environments that allow them to fulfil the many roles they play?
Some leaders see women as a liability. Instead, they should be asking, “How do we support that very capable woman who goes on maternity leave, to come back and integrate into the organisation?”
We shouldn’t put women in positions of having to choose between parenthood and a career. Instead, let’s create workplaces that allow them to do both to the extent that they wish.
How do we focus on women leadership without alienating men?
Sometimes to make a visible change, you’ve got to be unapologetic about the agenda.
“I’m unapologetic about our focus on accelerating the promotion of women into leadership positions and our investment towards their learning and development.”
What trait should every leader have?
Courage! We don’t want amagwala (cowards) as leaders. You must lead with confidence.
How do you handle negative feedback?
I receive it and immediately there and then, say I’m gonna do better. I haven’t always been this way. At first, I hated criticism, but professional coaching helped me realise that negative feedback is a powerful tool to help you grow, develop and attend to your blind spots.
How should women show up for and support each other in the work environment?
Senior women in organisations have the responsibility of sharing their journeys with the rest of the women in the business. We must pay it forward.
At this stage of your life, what does success look like?
I grew up poor, so I’ve always had a very clear view of what success looks like. I want to be successful in everything I do – not necessarily driven by material things, but by that feeling of achievement that I’ve actually overcome poverty and left it behind. In everything that I do, I look to do it so well that it creates further growth opportunities for me. My focus now is on my legacy rather than on accumulating wealth. I look forward to leaving behind a business that has grown our people and given a voice to women – the voice I battled to find.