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How To Raise A CEO: A Mother And Daughter Share Lessons

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At the 2020 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit in Durban on March 6, for the first time on the same stage, South Africa’s minister Dr Naledi Pandor and her entrepreneur-daughter Dr Aisha Pandor revealed their secrets to continued success.

It’s not often we get to witness a famous mother and daughter on the same stage sharing their lessons on success and legacy. And this duo was certainly doing so for the first time.

At the 2020 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit in Durban, South Africa, on March 6, Dr Naledi Pandor, the country’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, and Dr Aisha Pandor, CEO and Co-founder of SweepSouth, engaged in a stimulating and thought-provoking panel discussion titled ‘How To Raise A CEO’.

“Thank you very much to FORBES WOMAN AFRICA for the opportunity to be here with Aisha. I don’t often get a chance to see her. So it’s lovely to see you Aisha,” opened the much-loved minister, to laughter from the audience in the large ballroom at the international convention center in Durban.

Gugu Mfuphi, Dr Aisha Pandor, and Dr Naledi Pandor

The panel’s moderator Gugu Mfuphi began with a comic disclaimer that Dr Naledi has four children and that Dr Aisha is certainly “not the favorite”. As the audience lapped up the moment, the minister, with a broad smile, shook her head in disagreement, saying: “They are all my favorite!”

“It was very clear – just nurture them in a wide range of things. That’s really important.”

– Dr Naledi Pandor

There was more laughter and life lessons in store, as the audience got to see the lighter side of the minister.

“As a mother, what I tried to do is nurture her where she wished to grow, but also, to encourage her to have as much experience in a range of areas as possible. We would encourage academic work. We also encouraged sport, creativity; all my kids had to do speech and drama at school, it was very clear – just nurture them in a wide range of things. I think that’s really important,” said the senior Pandor.

While she mapped out her daughter’s career path, she later came to an important realization.

“She was really good in science. I love science but I’m bad at it. So I thought ‘God gave me Aisha, she’s going to achieve you know, because she was good at math and science’. And so she did very well at school, and went into the science faculty, did very well at the undergraduate level, was invited to carry on with an honors degree. She did very well and was asked to proceed to her Masters prior to finishing the honors. So, I was over the moon. It’s my dream, right? She continues from Masters into the PhD track, and completes her PhD with much fanfare and celebration on our part because now I’m thinking ‘here’s our senior research partner’. All these things I’ve been talking about science and technology, my child is going to live the example. Well lo and behold…”

The minister went on to offer more life-changing anecdotes about her daughter.

“One day, Aisha comes with her husband – who happens to be a software engineer – they tell us about this plan they’ve cooked up; that they’re going to start this tech start-up. And so I say to her ‘what about your research career?”. And she goes ‘this is what I want to do”. I say ‘what, but you’ve got a PhD, you could be a professor at the University of Cape Town, what are you talking about?’ And she says, ‘no mom, we’ve designed this program, we’ve started our company’. They began to tell me and her father all about it. Both of us were livid. I must tell you we thought ‘these kids are going to be a problem for us, they’ll be coming to beg for money and everything’. Few years down the line, and here we are! I’m very proud of her. I’ve learned my lesson. Let your children go where they wish to go!”

Dr Aisha Pandor

Aisha, along with her husband, learned quickly that being a CEO will require significant sacrifice.

“I lived with my parents for probably four years after starting our business. We eventually ended up selling everything we had, to fund the business,” she said.

“Our parents brought us up to have the right moral compass. Education and the idea of learning and knowledge have been very important. My parents gave us freedom in the decisions we made based on the fact that they knew they had given us that grounding.”  

Watch the full panel discussion below:

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All For Grooming Future Leaders

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Katlego Thwane has had to dip into his own savings, with the Covid-19 crisis, to fund his noble cause, teaching the underprivileged in a South African township.

He is in his twenties, yet turning around the destiny of underprivileged young people around him.

Katlego Thwane, a 28-year-old born and bred in South Africa’s lively township of Soweto, is an educator and founder of the Atlegang Bana Foundation here that caters to primary school learners who struggle to keep up at school and need additional help.

“Our foundation also provides for needy learners from underprivileged backgrounds. One of my biggest campaigns at the foundation every year is to give confidence and motivation to learners for the year ahead,” says Thwane.

He has bagged numerous awards and accolades for his work, as a 2017 Young Community Shaper, 2018 Lead SA hero and featuring on live television show Big Up on SABC Mzansi in 2018.

Growing up, he was a “naughty boy”, as he describes himself, but says many are now astonished at the serious, ambitious young man he has become.

“Teaching has always been a passion of mine. I love seeing change, transformation and grooming leaders, and value their education while being innovative in taking our country forward.”

Thwane has recently established a clothing brand, BANA, under the Atlegang Bana Foundation. He is also currently handing out food parcels to the needy in his community, in partnership with Hollywoodbets.

“The virus has affected us immensely with many parents losing their jobs or taking salary cuts, we are not receiving the financial support as before. This has led to me [dipping] into my own personal pocket and [using it] to buy tutors data for teaching virtually,” says Thwane.

Most schools continue operating online because learners haven’t as yet returned to school, however, this has come with its share of setbacks.

Makosha Masedi, a parent of a Grade 4 learner, says her challenges come with network issues and understanding the tasks given to the child.

“Some of the programs that the work is loaded on to is not friendly for all devices, so submitting and retrieving becomes a problem, as also understanding some of the work,” rues Masedi.

But Thwane powers on, hoping for a better tomorrow, for himself and his country.

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The Mother-Daughter Duo Behind A New Inclusive Community Teaching Budding Professionals How To Better Engage At Work

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Mother-daughter cofounders Edith Cooper and Jordan Taylor launched Medley to help young professionals gain the skills they need to bring their most authentic selves to work. COURTESY OF MEDLEY

Edith Cooper, who spent more than 20 years as an executive at Goldman Sachs, knows what it’s like to stand out in a workplace. Being one of few people of color in a sea of white faces over the course of her career hasn’t been easy. But rather than dwell on this reality, Cooper, who now sits on the boards of Etsy and Slack, has championed her differences. That’s what helped her rise through the ranks at the bank to eventually head its human resources department, an accomplishment she says was a result of her ability to connect with people of all backgrounds.

That quality would continue to work to her advantage: As Goldman Sachs evolved, so did its staff. Diversity was reflected not only in employees’ skin colors and genders, but also in their ages and geographical origins. Cooper was awakened to the fact that if the company was going to thrive, it would need to create an environment wherein its multifaceted staff could feel comfortable embracing their differences and, in turn, learn from them. 

“If you can figure out an environment where people can thrive together, it’s powerful,” Cooper says. But it’s a process that takes time, especially if newer, more inexperienced employees aren’t equipped with the proper skills to navigate this balance between professionalism and open expression. 

That is in part what inspired Cooper’s new startup, Medley, which she launched with her daughter Jordan Taylor, a former chief of staff at Mic and Harvard Business School Baker Scholar, to provide a community in which young professionals can gain the skills they need to bring their most authentic selves to work without fear. In light of the heightened tension surrounding ongoing racial injustice that’s inevitably seeping into workplace communication, it’s an ideal time to learn this skill.

Taylor has also had her fair share of experiences being the “only one in the room,” but as an emerging leader, rather than an established executive like her mother. Graduating in the top 5% of her class and being one the first 20 Black students to be named a Baker Scholar meant she was constantly figuring out how to relate to peers in predominantly white spaces. She figured it out, but Medley is a platform she wishes had been around when she was finding her voice among people whose backgrounds were much different than hers.

Medley groups young professionals in their 20s and 30s with other like-minded members whose workplace values, concerns and priorities align. The professionals that make up these eight-person groups differ, however, in terms of gender and ethnic background, which Cooper and Taylor hope will translate to increased empathy that members can apply within their respective workplaces.

“This idea of people being able to bring their true selves to work and to be able to talk through what that looks like is at the core of what Medley is offering,” says Cooper.

In addition to full access to workshops, panels and conversations led by experts across industries, members commit to a 90-minute virtual meeting each month, facilitated by a Medley-certified coach and focused on addressing and reflecting on ongoing experiences in their personal and professional lives. Cooper credits Medley’s robust network of coaches to the guidance she gained from Merche Del Valle, former global head of coaching at Goldman Sachs and a certified lifestyle, nutrition and wellness coach.

Merging personal wellness and professional development in group discussions is a priority. “You can’t just look at your career in a vacuum,” says Taylor. “In order to meet your potential, the ability to have a more holistic approach is incredibly important.”

To ensure that people of all socioeconomic backgrounds have the ability to join the community, Medley offers a sliding scale fee ranging from $50 to $250, depending on the financial situation of prospective members. Cooper and Taylor are also in conversations with companies interested in partnering with Medley to give their staff reimbursement for membership. 

With the help of investors including Away cofounder Jen Rubio, dtx company founder and CEO Tim Armstrong and MIC cofounder and former CEO Chris Altchek, who contributed more than $1 million to the project, Medley was ready to launch in May 2020 as an in-person membership hub in New York City. Shelter-in-place mandates halted the launch, but also presented an opportunity for Medley to instead be virtual and incorporate international members. The more springing corporate workers that can benefit from the community’s aim to build the next generation of confident, communicative professionals the better, the mother-daughter team notes.

“Medley gives people an opportunity to be a better human in relation to the people they work with and quite frankly in society,” Taylor says.

Brianne Garrett, Forbes Staff, Leadership

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Elon Musk Is Now The Fifth Richest Person In The World

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Elon Musk’s meteoric rise up the Forbes Billionaire List has continued this month, as he’s ascended past luminaries such as Warren Buffett and Steve Ballmer. As of Monday afternoon, Musk’s net worth surpassed $74 billion, meaning he is now the fifth-richest person on the planet.

KEY FACTS

  • Musk, 49, is the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, the electric vehicle company whose stock price has soared since March.
  • Tesla shares gained another 9.5% in Monday’s trading to $1,643.00, giving it a 60% rise in just three weeks since June 29, and a nearly 300% increase in 2020 alone.
  • Musk was ranked  No. 31 on Forbes’ Billionaires List as recently as mid-March, with a net worth just under $25 billion.
  • His fortune has nearly tripled since then, skyrocketing to $74.2 billion at the close of trading Monday, Forbes calculates.
  • Musk owns 21% of Tesla but has pledged more than half his stake as collateral for loans; Forbes has discounted his stake to take the loans into account.

KEY BACKGROUND: 

Musk first debuted on Forbes’ 400 Wealthiest Americans List in 2012 in 190th place with a net worth of $2.4 billion. On January 1 this year, he was the 37th richest person on earth. However, Tesla’s sudden and spectacular rise has propelled him near the very top of the world’s wealthiest humans. Tesla’s surge has confounded some investors, considering it’s far smaller than its competitors and only recently began to log quarterly profits. Tesla produced 103,000 vehicles in the first quarter; Toyota produced 2.4 million vehicles during that same period. In 2019, American automakers General Motors and Ford generated ten times more sales than Tesla. Late last month, analysts from Morgan Stanley warned that Tesla stock, which was trading at roughly $1,000 per share at that time, was “grossly overvalued and set to plunge.” Earlier this month, Musk said that Tesla would produce virtually fully autonomous self-driving vehicles by the end of 2020, a claim that was met with skepticism by an auto industry accustomed to a heaping of hype from Musk on the capabilities of self-driving technology. Musk has not sold shares of Tesla since 2010.

CRITICAL QUOTES:

“I really couldn’t care less,” Musk emailed Forbes about his net worth earlier this month. “These numbers rise and fall, but what really matters is making great products that people love.”

“Moves like we are seeing in Microsoft and Tesla and Amazon are truly insane and unlike any i have ever seen in my life,” tweeted analyst Jim Cramer on Monday afternoon. When asked if Tesla was a ‘Covid Stock,’ Cramer replied, “i don’t even know if it is a stock. it is something else entirely, like a new species discovered in the wild.” 

TANGENT:

When Kanye West initially announced that he was running for president, he said he had the “full support” of Musk, a longtime close friend. In a since-deleted tweet, Musk responded, “We may have more differences of opinion than I anticipated.” However, Musk later told Page Six, “Kanye explained afterward some of the reasoning behind why he said what he said. It makes more sense than many people, including me, realized.” On July Fourth, Musk tweeted, “You have my full support!”

Tommy Beer, Forbes Staff, Business

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