Inspiration Session: Phuti Mahanyele Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital

Phuti Mahanyele is the Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital, a privately held, majority-black owned investment group based in SA. She is also the former CEO of Shanduka Group, a multi-billion rand diversified African investment holding company, which she joined in 2004 as the Managing Director of Shanduka Energy. Phuti learned the power of education and the importance of hard work and drive early in life, knowing that one day it would build a strong foundation for her career. She encouraged us with the below:

Don’t limit your challenges, stretch yourself: Phuti had a well-paying job and had begun making strides in her career, but intrinsically she found the work to be unfulfilling. She decided to apply for a six-month internship at a large corporate in the US (where she was rejected twice before finally being accepted onto the programme) and she learned the value of investing her time into doing something that she really wanted to do well in.

If you never chase your dreams, you will never catch them: Phuti was fortunate enough to be surrounded by dreamers for most of her life, and is of the firm belief that people should follow their dreams and passions and most importantly, believe in them.

Unleash your 90%: people are capable of so much more and are not fulfilling their true potential as they are only driven by about 10% of what their purpose is. She also spoke to the importance of being inspired to pursue a purpose beyond ourselves.

On working in South Africa: there is no better place than SA for opportunities. Phuti said that we are living on a continent where there is massive scope for growth, and we need to spot the opportunities and use them to make a difference.

Pick your battles strategically: know when to fight for a cause and when to let go and accept the situation. Early in her career, Phuti decided that she would fight where it was absolutely necessary – where she felt that by fighting, she would be imparting something.

Work/life balance: having suffered a stroke in 2013, Phuti is a firm believer in balance being fundamental to success. We are supposed to live full lives; we need to maintain a high work ethic and put in the hours, but to also value the important role that family and friends play.

Phuti left us with a few thoughts regarding mentorship. Her advice was to engage with more than one mentor at certain crucial times in one’s career in an effort to challenge your thinking and get different views. Phuti also stressed the importance of giving mentorship at various levels and encouraged us to take younger professionals or students on as mentees.

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