Managing Director at East Coast Radio (ECR)
Boni Mchunu is currently the managing director at East Coast Radio, and she has been with the station for the past eight years.
Her business career, Boni said, has “been really a journey”. She joined East Coast Radio from the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Tourism Authority and before that she worked for Unilever, South Africa.
Boni added that she has always regarded herself as a leader, who is an industry agnostic. She said, “Put me in any business and I will be able to tap in and really immerse myself into understanding that business.”
Reflecting on her position at East Coast Radio, Boni commented that it feels like yesterday since she started her radio career. She added, “East Coast Radio is the heartbeat of KZN, and I am a KZN girl. I was born here, I was educated here and it is home. The station is at the heart of absolutely everything that KZN is about, and I just love it.”
Self-drive, self-determination, self-awareness and really knowing what it is that she wants to achieve have motivated Boni’s journey. She added that her dad died when she was in her teens, and he really inspired her a lot. “One thing he told me was that I must be careful about the decisions I make about education. And education for me has been at the heart of absolutely everything that I do.” It is therefore unsurprising that Boni is in her final year of completing an MBA.
Boni is also inspired by reading about other successful people, such as Steve Jobs, as well as the likes of Mandela. “If you read about the Mandela journey, you really get to understand that nothing is impossible under the sun, if you put your mind to it,” explained Boni. “You must just have discipline to make sure that you achieve whatever you set out to achieve,” she added.
There have been many challenges along her journey explained Boni. “I think the very obvious one is being a black young woman in South Africa. There’s always that connotation that, are you here because you are a quota? And I always want to make sure that people know that I’m here because I’m worth it. I’m suitable. I’m qualified, and I can do the job.”
The recent past, especially with Covid, has been a huge challenge. “It was my fourth year at East Coast Radio and was probably the first time where we were down double digits versus what we had set ourselves to achieve as a business.” However, said Boni, they learnt that resilience pays off and the station has been able to rebuild and achieve great business results again.
As the province has also faced floods and unrest, Boni commented, “One thing that stands out for me about this province is that the people in KZN live by the spirit of ubuntu and that’s why we’ve been able to rebuild.”
“Personally,” explained Boni, ‘My future goals are about being the best version of Boni every day. I don’t let failure define me. I remember when I started my MBA journey, there was a time when I was about to give up, but the resilient Boni in me kept me going.”
In addition, as Boni is a mother to three children who look up to her, it’s very important for her to take into account the lessons that she is imparting to them.
As a leader Boni is very results driven, so she needs to make sure that she delivers. Most importantly, as mentorship has been important to her and she has learnt so much through this journey, she wants to give back meaningfully and sustainably through education.
“I know what education has done for me, so it’s one of my legacy things that I want to leave behind,” she says. Boni has identified four girls who she is mentoring. “It really was quite encouraging and satisfying for me to have one of them graduating last year. I’m glad that I could be there to navigate tertiary education with her. It’s really been an amazing four years to see her where she is today. I just think that if every businesswoman could hand hold another woman; just to help them to become a businesswoman, we would have done well.”
In advising young women, Boni says that it’s important to be yourself, be authentic and work hard. “If you work hard, your work will speak volumes, whether you are present or not, and then life will unfold. Be you, because if you try and be somebody else, I believe that the universe can’t find you, whereas if you are authentically yourself and just work hard, everything else will take care of itself.”
One of Boni’s favourite things to do to relax is to run, which is her therapy of choice. She also enjoys spending time with her kids, her husband, and having moments that they can cherish. She added, “I love cooking. I don’t cook every day, but if I do cook, I cook with my kids, especially on weekends. We try different recipes as I have an eye for culinary arts.”
Boni says that she believes in looking after yourself. “I believe that if you have self-love then you can extend that love to others. If you don’t love yourself, then it’s hard to give it up. So self-love and time to myself is very important so I can spend time with people, those who are close to me and those whom I work with meaningfully.”
“Being part of KZN Top Business Women is great as the initiative is centred around this province. I believe KZN is an amazing destination with amazing businesswomen. Initiatives like this really go a long way in positioning us in this province. We can show other women, especially younger women, that it is possible to take up the space in business,” concluded Boni.