Have a dream, and pursue it with grace and boldness
As Head of Finance for the KZN Retail and Business Banking division in Standard Bank, Thabisa Nkanzela is part of the provincial executive leadership team and is directly responsible for providing financial management support at a strategic and operational level. This means that Thabisa and her finance team have a responsibility to ensure that the business operates within budget parameters and adheres to financial and governance requirements.
Embrace every opportunity
Thabisa attributes her career success thus far, firstly to the grace of God and secondly, to a combination of opportunity and hard work. Throughout the various stages of her career, she has been blessed to have been afforded opportunities to show up. "We all need both exposure and opportunity so we can demonstrate what we're really capable of," she says, "and I've constantly challenged myself to give of my best in every task or project allocated to me and embrace every opportunity."
But Thabisa is also adamant about the importance of having a dream and working hard to pursue it. "I'm blessed to be entrusted with various positions of influence in the community and at work today. But I grew up in a rural village near Flagstaff and as a young girl, I always had big dreams about myself and my surroundings. I am only realising now that the environment around me was neither conducive nor enabling for these dreams to become a reality, but I dreamt anyway."
"Your dreams, aspirations and imagination keep you open to opportunities and to something bigger than yourself. You can only do the best you can with what you have, but if you have a dream, you have something to work towards."
Inspired to make an impact
As she grew up, Thabisa began to see more potential for her future, and says that she's inspired to make an impact. "We can all make a difference wherever we are, and I always strive to leave things in better shape than I found them. This forces me to bring my A - game, and to be the best possible version of myself wherever I am."
Thabisa points out that women naturally have a different approach to business than men, and that contributes to their success. "Ability and skills can be taught, but we women have an innate ability to bring our whole selves to everything that we do, and that can be very powerful in business. However, most importantly we are all unique beings offering diverse thinking, perspectives and abilities, and each person should be recognised for what they have to offer, regardless of their gender."
Thabisa is extremely grateful and humbled by her journey and accomplishments to date. But she also points out that she still has a lot to offer - not just on the work front, but also to her family, her community and her generation at large.
"I was raised by a strong and highly accomplished mother, who continues to positively influence her family and her community at large through the various leadership roles that she assumes. It is through observing her that I know how important it is to use whatever influence and success you may achieve for the enrichment of those around you."
"I also consider myself to be a highly teachable person, so I'm always open to learning new things. Continuous development has been one of the biggest and most important contributors to my progress thus far, both on a personal and professional level, and I strive to continue with that journey of growth."
Build a strong support system
When asked whether she manages to achieve a work-life balance, Thabisa answers that she always tries to live life to the fullest in every way, including pursuing a rewarding professional career. "But it's not easy,' she points out, "and it certainly requires a lot of trade-offs, but it is possible. For me, it means identifying what I'm passionate about outside of work, then being deliberate about investing time in those things."
Thabisa points out that you can't do it all on your own. Building a strong support system around yourself makes all the difference. Thabisa also has some advice for her younger self, and for other young businesspeople setting out to make their mark on the world. "Ask more questions. It's okay to ask, and you gain greater insights. You don't always have to figure everything out for yourself.
Secondly, you have a lot to learn, but equally so you have a lot to offer this world. In everything you do, strive to learn and to create at the same time, then you'll find fulfilment.
Lastly, and very importantly, don't define yourself by what you have today. Circumstances around you may seem limiting right now, but keep dreaming, keep imagining. Never close yourself off to opportunities."
As Head of Finance for the KZN Retail and Business Banking division in Standard Bank, Thabisa Nkanzela is part of the provincial executive leadership team and is directly responsible for providing financial management support at a strategic and operational level