Sindi Mabaso-Koyana (43), is Executive Chair Advanced Capital. She qualified as a Chartered Accountant at the dawn of SA’s democracy. Born and raised in Umlazi, Durban, she had virtually no-one to look up to as a career mentor, other than her mother – someone she’s always regarded as a role model.
“She instilled in me the values of hard work and wanting a better life than what I saw around me,” she recalls.
She served her articles at Deloitte in Durban before heading for Johannesburg, where she met the first black female CA in the country, Nonkukuleko Gobodo, and together with five other partners founded Gobodo Incorporated.
In due course, Mabaso-Koyana became CFO at Transnet, Group CFO at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and Executive Partner at Ernst & Young in charge of the public sector.
She left Prasa very suddenly, saying she ended up being a “casualty” of a difficult situation.
“The matter is currently before the CCMA,” she says.
She presently plays a strong operational role in businesses in which Advanced Capital has invested. The organisation supplies industrial products, fire systems, hydraulics and other engineering services to the mining sector.
Mabaso-Koyana’s success strategies
- Rise early. “Considering the highly competitive environment in which we operate, I have to be fully prepared for the day, so I make sure I stay ahead of the game.”
- Develop yourself. “Aside from investing in my career, I believe in developing myself personally. To achieve a healthy balance between body, mind and soul, I retreat and reflect, often early in the morning before the world wakes up. I’ve just come back from a retreat in Istanbul, Turkey.”
- Take full advantage of opportunities. Mabaso-Koyana did this at every step of her career, including working very closely with the former CEO of Transnet, Mafika Mkwanazi, and totally submerging herself in personal development training courses on offer at different companies.
First published in DESTINY May 2013.
Sindi Mabaso-Koyana is a 43-year-old wife, mother and successful businesswoman, who began her career with a B.com degree from UKZN.....
Today she has been named one of the country's 20 most powerful business women by the Financial Mail and was a finalist of the 2004 Business Woman of the Year Award.
Long journey to success
Her climb up the ladder of success was not an easy one, and required a lot of hard work and dedication, which began with working her own way through university.
During her time at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), Sindi received bursaries from Robertsons Spices as well as Nivea. She trained at Deloitte's to do her CA articles after which she went to Robertsons to start her working life.
Following Robertsons, Sindi became one of the founder members of Gobodo Inc and became a director at Sarhwu Investments, followed by Transnet/Viamax, where she got to travel the globe on business. She has also worked for Ernst & Young as a Partner, and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) where she was the Group Chief Financial Officer before she co-founded Advanced Capital - which she chairs - with her business partner Hugo Knoetze.
Sindi also serves on several corporate boards including Toyota SA, Adcorp, and Altech amongst others. Advanced Capital recently launched Art Investments to mentor promising artists and provide them with a forum to earn a sustainable living through their unique talent as artists.
All4Women chatted to Sindi, and asked her about her secrets to climbing up the corporate ladder.
All4Women (A4W): You’re immersed in the typically male-dominated environment of finance and investment – what challenges have you faced, and how did you establish your authority in this industry?
Sindi Mabaso-Koyana (SMK): I believe if we take ourselves seriously, apply our knowledge and work hard and smart, we receive the recognition, eventually, as we should.
By being on top of the game at all times with continuous personal and professional development I naturally place myself in the space of wanting to make a difference wherever I am.
If one works in an environment where you are not respected, it's time to peruse the greater picture of the workplace and endeavour to find the right 'fit' for your expertise.
I'm blessed to be serving in a company and on projects where I feel appreciated, whilst serving on boards of directors where my contributions stand for something.
A4W:Where did the idea for Art Investments come from, and what excites you about this project?
SMK: My business partner at Advanced Capital, Hugo Knoetze and I decided we needed to give back as a key attribute for any successful journey. We needed a project where we can make a difference in a meaningful way.
While we were researching this plan we came across a young artist, Reggie Khumalo, working in a frame shop to supplement his painting skills, and the idea started taking shape.
I realised there had to be many local artists from disadvantaged communities who had the potential of becoming great artists were they given the tools to create canvasses of beauty and earning a sustainable living through their craft.
Having done this for the last 10 years for young black women aspiring to be Chartered Accountants through African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA), doing it with artists is exciting for both Hugo and myself.
A4W: Do you believe that all businesses should also include a social upliftment aspect?
SMK: I believe in our economic climate we should endeavour to make time for such projects where possible, and if the business is sustainable enough to pursue such upliftment initiatives.
It also sets an example for our employees, many of whom are future employers who could eventually be involved in such projects. A neglected society can never be a healthy environment for a corporate to thrive.
A4W: How do you balance family and work life?
SMK: I place high value on taking time for me, for my husband and for my children in the middle of the highly complex career life that I lead.
I go on regular retreats to detox and de-stress, and where possible I go together with my husband. Time management to be a wife, a mother as well as a business woman has become part and parcel of my routine!
A4W: What advice do you wish someone gave you before you entered the working world (something you have learned and would like to share with other women out there).
SMK: To work smarter and not burn out! At first, I thought working very hard was what counted. I've subsequently learned to work smarter and to make time for 'me' too!