These life tips have helped some of South Africa’s most successful women reach their career success

1. Be genuine in everything you do

‘This works both inside and outside work. If you can’t stay consistent across both worlds, you’ll have a tough time reconciling what you do with who you are, and life is too short to be a hypocrite. Key for me and my authenticity are six values: honesty, tolerance, creativity, hard work, infinite optimism and loads of humour. These values have shaped my core personality throughout my career and have contributed to my success more than anything else.’

– Yasaman Hadjibashi, chief creation officer at Barclays Africa Group

2. If you don’t give, you don’t get

‘To love what you do, to have passion, determination and a good work ethic are all very important; but ultimately, I believe that if you don’t give, you don’t get. If you don’t share your time, knowledge and passion, you can’t grow. I have fulfilment every day in so many ways when I do this.’

– Lisa Currey, MD of Hamiltons Advertising


3. Divide projects into bite-sized chunks

‘As with many challenges in life, there will be times when it all feels impossible, when the magnitude of the task combined with the weight of your and everyone else’s expectations has frozen the part of your brain where ideas live. In my spare time, I’m a long-distance runner and one thing running the Comrades Marathon three times has taught me is that the finish line is a lot closer when you stop trying to run the whole 89km and start dividing it into manageable portions. Ignore the final product due in six months and focus on the first task. Ideas always flow when you own the work, not when the work owns you.’

– Emma Carpenter, creative director at Accenture Digital

4. Live every experience without pre-empting the outcome

‘I learned early on that if I wanted to remain relevant, I had to take on new outside-the-norm opportunities tenaciously, and not assume a predictable outcome. Without additional reward or recognition, the true value was living each experience and harnessing this for my continued personal and professional development. As I navigate the current disruptive business landscape, this lesson has served me well and allowed me to leverage a hefty basket of experiences in the face of uncertain outcomes.’

– Zaheeda Cajee, head of lighting solutions at Phillips SA

5. Stick with your vision

‘A solid work ethic was passed on to us as children. My parents instilled in me the belief that I could achieve anything if I stuck with my vision and delivered excellence. As a teenager, I started working at my mother’s restaurant where I discovered a passion for cakes, but also for entrepreneurship. I decided to branch out on my own by opening Treat Patisserie, which started as a small coffee shop. I learned the importance of innovation and wanted to reinvent the traditional cake offerings at coffee shops, which led to the eventual creation of my business.’

– Jandri van Zyl, owner of The Velvet Cake Co


6. Dream big, aim high, be grateful

‘I make resolutions during my annual trip to Greece in August, which coincides with the Perseid meteor shower. It’s a magical time and defines the year ahead. While we all need a bit of magic in our lives, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t set quantifiable goals. Mine are very specific and I do a monthly check on my performance. I expand that thinking to my loved ones – I set goals for my family and define my role in their lives. Every day I wake up feeling grateful – the most important part of my journey.’

– Eleni Giokos, business correspondent at CNN International: Johannesburg Bureau

7. Say yes, ask how

‘During my career at McDonald’s, gender has never restricted my professional growth. I haven’t experienced the glass-ceiling effect, but rather the “sticky floor” effect – self-imposed limitations. Feelings of selfdoubt set in from time to time, but over the years I’ve learned how to process this more effectively. If I want something, I develop a “yes, how?” mental framework of what I want to achieve and map out the steps in order to succeed. For me the biggest motivator is also to surround myself with people who will inspire and support me, be it my team, peers or family.’

– Jo-Ann de Wet, chief operations and supply chain officer at McDonald’s SA


8. The greatest gift is time

‘The rules I live by are rooted in making the most of my time, personally and professionally. One of my favourite quotes by author Rick Warren is: “When you live in the light of eternity, your values change.” Live a purpose-driven life and align this with the career you choose – you spend most of your day at work, so enjoy it. Know where you come from and be thankful for the people who gave you opportunities.’

– Walda Meyer, general manager of Century City Hotel

9. Develop people to their highest potential

‘I delegate work to the lowest position possible. If my people are learning, growing and challenged, they’re more engaged and the results will come. Team members who are able to make decisions and move work along without my involvement free me up to look at future initiatives. Don’t let business get in the way of people development and coaching. Too often we ignore what’s happening with the people around us because we’re so focused on the business.’

– Ann-Marie Hosang-Archer, MD Lilly South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa

10. Stay true to yourself

‘My rule for success is to remain true to the principles and values I uphold. At the same time, challenge the status quo, especially if it’s to the detriment of business growth, equality and societal upliftment. As much as I’m career driven, I believe in work-life balance. I need to bring the best of me, physically, emotionally and spiritually, in order to attain my goals.’

– Sinovuyo Dumalisile, marketing manager at Hansgrohe SA