A story of resilience, patience, hardwork and sheer brilliance….
We can all agree that as a woman, 21st century or not, being in a male-dominated industry and making a success out of it is not a walk in the park. You need a thick-skin, an undying spirit, patience, endurance, passion, drive and a “go-getter” attitude. We’ve got to give credit to women who possess all these qualities. Women who rise above all circumstances, against all odds and make a name for themselves in such industries. I’m talking about game-changers, difference-makers, trail blazers, women who are not easily shaken, women who are not scared of dreaming big and turning those dreams into a reality. Phuti Mahanyele, is an example of such a woman. Let me prove to you why she’s all this and more.
Born in Soweto, South Africa, Phuti Mahanyele, is a respected business executive and former CEO of Shanduka Group which is a South-African investment holding company. When she was just 17, she lost her mother, an experience which taught her to appreciate the value of life. After her mother’s death, Mahanyele’s father had to play the role of both a mother and a father. Sadly, her father passed away in 2012.
At just 17, she left South Africa to pursue her studies at Douglas College which later merged into Rutgers University in the United States. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Economics in 1993 and in 1996, earned an MBA from De Montfort University. In 2008, she completed Havard University’s Kennedy School of Government executive education program.
Determined to reach for the stars and make the most out of life, Mahanyele joined an international investment banking company specialising in infrastructural development in New York City called “Fieldstone Private Capital Group”. She ultimately became the Vice-President of the firm, later transferring to the company’s office in South Africa- an opportunity which came right at the beginning of democracy. As if that wasn’t enough, after her return to the country, she became the head of Project Finance South Africa at the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
After being headhunted by the founder and Chairperson of Shanduka Group and South African Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, she became the managing director of Shanduka Energy in 2004 later becoming the CEO of Shanduka Group. Many have linked her ability to grow the company’s portfolio to her business acumen and sharp mind but for this God-fearing woman, it is her faith that has helped her enormously and not just career-wise but in her personal life as well.
Her other achievements include speaking at the Women’s Leadership Conference where she argued that a bigger role for women in business was important not only to fight social injustice but highly because, she maintains, there was an economic and business imperative to use the skills of women to solve world challenges. Mahanyele was also selected as a Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2007 and in 2011, was named one of the 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa by Forbes.
She has also won a number of awards including, among many others, the “Distinguished Achievement” award by the Douglass Society in 2013, the “Rutgers Vision of Excellence” award from Rutgers University and the award for the “Most Influential Woman in Government and Business” in 2009. She recently resigned as CEO of Shanduka Group to pursue other business ventures.
Phuti Mahanyele takes the term “go-getter” to a whole new level. Given her qualities, skills and expertise, I have no doubt that she is going to make waves in her future endeavours. We need more women like Phuti Mahanyele in the continent, definitely one of Africa’s best!