Young Leaders Dinner with Thembalihle Baloyi, Founder and Executive Director of Discovery Insure

On 17 March 2016, Accelerate Cape Town hosted the fourth of our Young Leaders Dinners – a programme to support talent attraction and retention particularly within our Sponsor organisations. With the topic of Resilience, Diversity and Integrity in the Workplace, Thembalihle Baloyi, Founder and Executive Director of Discovery Insure, was ideal to tell his story of what it takes to forge a successful career.

Building Skyscrapers: Themba spoke about building skyscrapers and challenged us by saying that our most significant career achievements aren’t bright because they’re easy, but because they’re difficult. He shared some of his observations from the 8 difficult years spent trying to convince the Discovery Board of Directors about his idea:

What is your vision? You need to set a clear vision. In 1996, Themba had a friend who had a PPOS, Professional/Personal Objective Statement, and he thought he could do the same. It asks, in 20 years from now, where will I be? Most of the things on Themba’s original PPOS have now been realised as he committed fully to his vision. He also advised our young leaders to surround themselves with people who can fuel their vision and who will not be a negative influence.

What do you do when no one is watching? Themba stressed the importance of self-leadership. When it’s easy to give up, what do you do? You will want to compromise but he urged us to commit to our convictions. Treat people with kindness even when no one is watching. When you deliver great results at work but have “dead bodies” lying around, is that really good leadership ”a job well done”?

What do you do when you face rejection? You need to be clear about what you will do when it happens to you because it will certainly happen at some point. But don’t give up, it is often at this point when brilliance emerges. Themba encouraged us to persevere and succeed not only for ourselves but for the people coming up behind us. South Africa needs good examples of resilience and legitimate success, and we need to be these examples.

When is the right time? If you don’t get started, things will never come to fruition in your life. There is never a right time, only you can determine when the time is right. We need to build our own futures, we can’t expect someone else to do it for us.

3 Lessons from Grandmother: Themba’s grandmother was a wise woman who left him with 3 great lessons: 1) The value of education. Never stop learning (Ufunda uze ufe, directly translated to “you should continue learning till the day you die”) Keep reading, and make sure to apply what you read. 2) The power of forgiveness. You will get offended in life, bitterness is regressive, but forgiveness is progressive in nature. 3) The value of integrity and honesty. When times are tough, don’t abandon your values, but rather be enterprising and willing to work harder to find a solution.

It was an inspiring evening hearing from Themba and we respected his advice around setting a clear PPOS for yourself and standing by your convictions. We’d like to thank the candidates from KPMG, Vodacom and Webber Wentzel for ensuring a rich discussion on transformation and creating more inclusion in Cape Town.

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