Our leaders are hidden in plain sight



This is the third edition of the leadership conversations, I am so greatful to those leaders who have participated so far. In the last two editions we were able to share deep conversations with 19 exceptional leaders from across the African continent and beyond in our “ Conversations with Leaders” series. These leaders willingly shared their personal and professional journeys in the most inspiring and illuminating manner. 

I have also had an opportunity to have conversations with 17 young leaders from across the continent, these young leaders raised amazing issues and I had to dig deep to answer their questions in our “ Conversations with young Leaders” series. 

I am so excited to announce the lineup of leaders for the third edition of our Conversations with Leaders series. I am so pleased that these 10 influential leaders, from different disciplines, industries and countries have willingly shared their vast experiences, personal and professional journeys and broad perspectives with you, our readers. I hope you can learn something from all these remarkable life stories. 

The leaders who feature in this Third edition include: 

Angela Mhlanga

Angela is the CEO, Hollard Partner Solutions. Angela has been in the Insurance industry for the last 12 years and occupied very senior roles within the industry. Angela is a non executive Director of Boards at the Insurance Institute of South Africa and at Ooba Investment Holdings. 

I have known Angela as a colleague and a friend for many years and she has an amazing personal and professional story to tell. I have admired her values and principles and I hope you will find her story to be compelling and interesting. 

Read the conversation with Angela Mhlanga

Ipeleng Mkhari

Ipeleng Mkhari, is the founder and CEO of Motseng Investment Holdings a diversified investment holdings group with investments spanning from asset management, property management, infrastructure investing, logistics and industrial manufacturing. 

She has served on various boards of unlisted and listed businesses, public sector agencies and non-profit organisations. She is currently a non-executive director of KAP Industrial*, Nampak*, and a board of governor’s member of St John’s Diocesan School for Girls. Ipeleng was recently elected as the President of the influential South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA)

I’ve known and admired Ipeleng as a friend and I have marveled at her pioneering approach to entrepreneurship. It is remarkable that the company she started, just after leaving university, is now celebrating 20 years of success in a difficult and competitive environment. She shares insights about her journey of entrepreneurship and her life experiences. I know many young entrepreneurs and aspirant entrepreneurs will benefit from her journey. 

Read the conversation with Ipeleng Mkhari

Alex Msitshana

Alex is a Development Consultant with over twenty years experience gained both in the development and corporate sector. She carved her teeth in the Human Resources field. Unfortunately, a few years back Alex became ill and lost her hearing and after a long road to recovery, she soon discovered the challenges presented by Deafness when she tried to go back to the world of work. Suddenly she could not find employment notwithstanding her vast experience, skills and qualifications. 

After a long struggle, she was given an opportunity by an organisation for the Deaf and tasked with the responsibility for the organisation’s work placement programme. In two short years with this programme, she and her colleagues managed to place close to fifty Deaf applicants in various organisations in the country. 

In 2015 Alex established and founded the Deaf Empowerment Firm (DEF) whose aim and mission is to provide a holistic empowerment service to the Deaf and people with hearing loss through work placements, internships, skills and enterprise development. She is the MD of DEF and has grown this company to become a formidable force in the placement and empowerment of deaf people. 

She is now a Patron of the National Institute for the Deaf (NID) and also serves on the Board of CBM – SA (Christofel-Blinden Mission – South Africa) an International NGO with its Head Quarters in Germany that is working to alleviate poverty for all persons with disability worldwide. In 2015 she was appointed to serve on the Presidential Working Group on Disability.

I have known Alex for more than 30 years as an activist and an organizer from our days as young student activists. I’ve watched her being tested to the core by debilitating illnesses that almost took away all the passion, drive, energy and her indefatigable spirit. Remarkably Alex fought back against all odds to regain her health, and then was devastated by losing her hearing. Alex dug deep again to the last reservoir of faith and energy to become a passionate and effective champion for the deaf. 

Her inspirational life story is captured in her book, “A woman of Indomitable character “I hope young leaders and entrepreneurs will learn from her story about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. I have always loved her courage, tenacity and resilience regardless of forces ranged against her and her passion to stand up for those less fortunate. 

Read Conversation with Alex Msitshana

Dr Lulu Gwangwa

Dr Gwagwa is the Chief Executive Officer of Lereko Investments, a black-owned investment company, and one of the principals in the Lereko Metier Capital Growth Fund. She also serves as non-executive director of FirstRand, Massmart and Sun International. She is also the Chairperson of Aurecon Africa. She recently served as the Deputy Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Planning Commission.

Dr Gwagwa’s passion for spatial equity has driven her philanthropic work. Two decades ago she founded the Mhakazi Trust to empower the young people of Umzimkulu, some of whom have even graduated from tertiary institutions. She is a multifaceted woman: an accomplished development planner; business leader; and philanthropist. She is a keen writer and photographer who is currently studying philosophy.

I’ve known Dr Gwagwa (or Sis Lulu as we fondly call her) from our days as anti apartheid activists, later when she was tasked to lead the IDT, and through a stint in the public service. I have followed her life and career and have always been impressed by her academic achievements, professional diligence, intellectual acumen, sense of service and her selflessness and philanthropy. I know many of you will relate with her personal and professional life journey, she is certainly one of my role models.

Read the conversation with Dr Lulu Gwangwa

Lesetja Kganyago

Mr. Kganyago has been the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank since November 2014. He served as Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank from May 2011, and was responsible for a wide range of areas, including research, financial stability and regulatory reform, bank supervision, and risk management and compliance. During his tenure as Director-General of the National Treasury of South Africa, he successfully steered a number of public finance and financial markets reforms. Mr. Kganyago led South Africa’s technical team to various meetings of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, including during South Africa’s presidency in 2007. 

Mr. Kganyago also chaired the IMF/World Bank Development Committee Deputies and the G20 Working Group on IMF Governance Reform. Mr. Kganyago is currently the chair of the Association of African Central Bankers, the Chair of the Committee of Central Bank Governors of the Southern African Development Community, and the Co-Chair of the Financial Stability Board’s Regional Consultative Group for Sub-Saharan Africa. He is also the chair of the Financial Stability Board’s Standing Committee on Standards Implementation. 

One of the most notable highlights to Mr Kganyago’s stellar career was being selected as the Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC). The IMFC is the policy advisory committee of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

I have known Mr Kganyago from the time of the anti apartheid struggle, to work in the public sector and to the time in the Central Bank. I have always looked up to him as the consummate professional, a role model as a public servant; an example to emulate in leading a team of professionals and as a leader who can represent our country at the highest international forums. In this conversation Mr Kganyago shares his personal and professional journey from growing up in a village to becoming one of the leading economic thinkers in the world. 

I am sure our readers will learn a lot about probity, excellence, hardwork, diligence and professionalism from Mr Kganyago story.

Read Conversation with Lesego Kganyago

Mukwandi Chibesakunda 

As a young girl, growing up in Zambia, Mukwandi Walusiku Chibesakunda woke up as early as 05h00 in the morning, to till the land, milk cows, dress chickens, pick fruits and vegetables. This unusual routine for a young girl set a foundation of hard work in Mukwandi, now an accomplished banker.

Mukwandi was recently appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive of the National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE), making her the first woman to head the financial institution wholly owned by Zambians. She is also the first female president of the Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services.

She has worked in a number of financial institutions held such positions as Head of Personal and Business at Stanbic Zambia Limited, Chief Executive at Access Bank Zambia Limited, Director consumer banking and Regional Head of service, Southern Africa at Standard Chartered Bank Group and Financial analyst in the bank supervision at the Bank of Zambia.

Mukwandi serves as a Non- Executive Director on the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board and Zambia Livestock Development Trust. She is also a member of the CDC Africa List Zambia Working Group.

I have known Mukwandi for more than 5 years as a colleague and later as a friend. She has achieved a lot of milestones in her life and career. Watching her grow and succeed, I was very impressed by her achievements, values, principles, technical competence, pioneering spirit and her obsession with achieving results even in difficult circumstances. She has been a wonderful role model to many young leaders and entrepreneurs, and I know that her story will inspire our readers.

Read the conversation Mukwandi Chibesakunda 

Peter Schlebusch

Mr. Peter Schlebusch served as the Chief Executive of Personal & Business Banking (PBB) for The Standard Bank Group Limited. Peter joined the Standard Bank group in 2002 as Director of retail products. In January 2006, he was appointed as Deputy Chief Operations Officer of the Personal and Business Banking. In September 2006, Peter was appointed deputy Chief Executive of PBB South Africa. In 2008 Peter was promoted to the role of Chief Executive for the PBB SA. In November 2012, Peter was appointed the Chief Executive of Personal and Business Banking for the Standard Bank group looking after our businesses in South Africa, Africa Regions and International. 

Peter is now a Senior Banker in the Standard Bank Group and is a member of the Board of Directors, in Standard Bank Offshore Group (Jersey and Isle of Mann), Standard Bank Namibia and Stanbic Kenya. 

Peter Schlebusch stepped down as the Chief Executive of Standard Bank Group’s Personal and Business Bank (PBB) after leading the business to unprecedented success over a 10-year period. Peter put an enormous amount of time, effort and energy into building the great business that PBB has become. Peter was also a pioneer in the Standard Bank Group’s modernisation as it becomes a digital financial services organisation. Peter took 4 months sabbatical leave to spend valuable time with his family and has returned as a Senior Banker who is tasked with various tasks and roles for the Standard Bank Group. He is succeeded by Zweli Manyathi. 

I have known Peter for more than 17 years as a colleague and later a friend at Standard Bank. 10 of those years I worked under Peter’s leadership and learnt so much about humility, integrity, commercial acumen, work life balance, the digital economy and how to lead with compassion. In our conversation Peter shares his life and career journey and his story will provide illuminating lessons for many of our young leaders.

Read the conversation with Peter Schlebusch

Advocate Vusi Pikoli 

Advocate Pikoli was the Director-General in the department of Justice and Constitutional Development for six years. In 2005 he was appointed to head up the National Prosecuting Authority as the National Director of Public Prosecution. He later took on a role as Head of Forensic Services at SizweNtsalubaGobodo. Up until recently, Adv Pikoli was the Western Cape Police Ombudsman from 2014-18. He is now the Advisor to the Minister of State Security. 

Advocate Pikoli is a member of the advisory council of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution ( CASAC) and is the author of the book, “ The Second Initiation”. 

Growing up in Port Elizabeth, people like Vusi Pikoli were our heroes as anti apartheid freedom fighters who were in exile. I watched him closely while we all worked in the public sector after 1994. I have followed his trials and tribulations which became the source of constitutional questions that have dealt with the independence of the Prosecuting Authority. Reading his book and throughout our conversation, a number of things come out: standing up for your principles regardless of personal consequences; fidelity to the truth, tenacity, courage and resilience. I hope this conversation will give you a glimpse into Adv Pikoli’s personal and professional journey, the decisions he took, and the choices he faced. I am sure that our young leaders will learn a lot from Adv Pikoli’s life journey. 

Read the conversation with Advocate Vusi Pikoli

The Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba is the Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.
Dr Makgoba trained as a priest at St Paul’s College in Grahamstown, where he earned a diploma in Theology.

After ordination, he served in various positions in Johannesburg Anglican Diocese, including at St Mary’s Cathedral and the Church of Christ the King in Sophiatown, and as Anglican chaplain at Wits. 

He was elected Bishop Suffragan of Grahamstown in 2002 – serving as Bishop of Queenstown, then as Bishop of Grahamstown in 2004 and as Archbishop of Cape Town in 2008. Dr Makgoba pioneered the concept of indaba in the worldwide Anglican Communion as a means of getting to grips with difference, and was decorated by the Archbishop of Canterbury with the Cross of St Augustine for his role in the Communion. He currently chairs the Anglican Communion Environmental Network.

He has served and continues to serve as a board member in a number of NGOs and both ecumenical and interfaith bodies. Since moving to Cape Town, he has earned a PhD from the University of Cape Town, for a thesis on Spirituality in the South African Mining Workplace. He has also received degrees of Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from the General Theological Seminary in New York, from Huron University College in Canada and the University of the South (Sewanne, Tennessee).

He is currently the chancellor of the University of the Western Cape. He has published two books, a short autobiographical account, Connectedness, in 2005 and Workplace Spirituality in a Mine Context, in 2012. His latest book is called Faith and Courage: Praying with Mandela in which he describes his spiritual journey with Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel. 

I’ve known Dr Makgoba since our student days at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. I have watched with awe as he became the youngest Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and his influence and leadership has grown from South Africa, the broader African continent and the rest of the world. I hope you will enjoy our conversation as we tackle spirituality, change, ethics, inequality and the future of the church. I look up to Archbishop Makgoba as a role model and I admire his independent mind, commitment to lifelong learning, humility, passion for justice and equity, his ability to speak truth to power and his beautiful relationship to his beloved wife Lungi. I am sure many young leaders will find much inspiration from my conversation with Archbishop Makgoba. 

Read the conversation with The Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba

Brian Jones

Brian Jones is a highly experienced executive, speaker, and entrepreneur. His career has spanned multiple sectors and disciplines in a variety of industries. 

In addition to launching 2 successful private businesses, Brian’s experience includes 15 years on the executive boards of FTSE100 companies. His tenures have included; Chief Information Officer at Allied Domecq, Head of Business Transformation at Burberry, Chief Commercial Officer at Smiths Group, and President of Smiths Detection.

Brian and his wife Maggie own Alwalton Hall, a beautiful beauty and wellness sanctuary to the west of Peterborough, as well as its associated operating business, Alwalton Hall Ltd. He is also Chairman of the Globalution group of companies (Allied Worldwide, Pro-More, Living For Learning), a dynamic group of innovative international business services companies headquartered in the home counties. 

Brian has a track record of driving operational excellence, business transformation, and growth. He is passionate about people, service, and leadership, and has spoken on these and other subjects at London Business School, private companies, and in international leadership events. Since developing his Leadership Framework in 2015 Brian has presented it at leadership events around the world. Most recently he was invited to present on “Helping Leaders Get Better” at a Harvard Business School alumni event in Boston. 

Brian is an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Music, INSEAD, and Harvard Business School. I met Brian at the Harvard Business school in 2013 as part of the AMP class, and I admired his passion and love for people, service and leadership. In our subsequent conversations during our reunions we shared ideas on promoting leadership and people development in our spheres of influence. I hope you will find so much value, insights and experiences from Brian’s personal and professional journey from the best universities in the world to the most influential companies in the FTSE 100 companies. This also aims to bring leaders from across the world to our young leaders to learn from their experiences. Brian brings to us a wealth of experience of a leader who has been an entrepreneur, worked in large corporates, drove huge business transformation programmes, is involved in societal causes, and is also involved with organizations in his local environment. I hope you enjoy the read. 

Read the conversation with Brian Jones

Conversations with young Leaders 

I have also been inspired by the amazing conversations with 10 young leaders from different companies, countries and industries. They have challenged me, made me to reflect a lot about vexing leadership questions and also made me to reflect on my own leadership and personal journey. In the same way as the discussions I have had with other leaders, these conversations have made us all vulnerable to talk about our personal and professional journeys with all the lows and highs, they have also invited me to share my views on a range of things. The views I’ve expressed on these matters are mine and mine alone, they may not be shared by these young leaders or their organisations, they are also not reflective of the views of my own organisation, but these are necessary for growing conversations across the African continent. I hope you will enjoy these conversations and that you may gain from my life experiences. Below are the amazing leaders I have had conversations with in this series, “ Conversations with young Leaders”.

Shanice Mfeka – A Digital Transformation Expert, South Africa

Chijioke Chinedu Charles – Branch Manager of Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc Alaba Branch, Alba Nigeria

Dudu Nhlabathi Madonsela – Product Head FNB Connect 

Joy Ratala – Snr. Change Consultant, Diversified Consulting, South Africa

Pumela Xanywa – National Head, Public Sector, Business Banking, Nedbank. South Africa

Muzzafar Nagvadari – Senior Manager; Sales and Service, Card&Emerging Payments Standard Bank, South Africa

Patience Rolls – Senior Manager: Cash & ATMs; Standard Bank, South Africa

Wole Adeyisan – Head, Business Transformation Programmes, STANBIC IBTC, Nigeria

Pinky Sishuba – Manager Future Stream Lead Business Integrated Solutions Transactional Products and Services in Corporate and Investment Banking, Standard Bank, South Africa

Nape Nkadimeng – Manager, Merchant Services, Africa Regions, Standard Bank, South Africa

As we close 2018, we now have an amazing 29 personal and professional journeys of leaders from across the world. This means that young leaders, from across the continent can learn from any of those life stories at a click. At the same time I have shared different aspects of my own personal, professional and life journey, perspectives and insights with 27 young leaders from across the continent. 

We can only grow from this to reach my goal of a conversation I will have with 100 leaders and on my side being involved in a conversation about my own journey with 100 young leaders. It may look impossible, but I’m determined to reach that milestone by the year 2020. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions as to how we can improve and grow this platform. 

I look forward to a great 2019 and I already have exciting leaders and young leaders lined up for our next edition Mid January 2019.