Updated: Nov 23, 2022
ZANELE LUVUNO has an extensive career spanning over two decades. She has primarily worked in the people space in the area of coaching, talent acquisition, executive search, and partner profiling for transactions. Her broader business portfolio includes e-commerce as well as property investment.
Zanele’s client base has included blue chip clients on projects throughout the African continent. She is a vocal figure about transformation in South Africa and has her finger on the pulse particularly about establishing and promoting the future of female leaders. Zanele has been featured in many publications as a thought leader in the national conversations around transformation and gender equality especially as these issues relate to business and careers.
HELPING ORGANISATIONS SHIFT
She has recently started a new business – Metamorphosis Integrated Solutions. Zanele explains, “Having been in the people space for the last two decades I have seen a shift. As we move into the age of information it’s now all about innovation, it’s about innovative people who can come up with new concepts that are going to change the world. I think we as individuals need to look at how we approach careers and how we approach work and the space that we occupy. The business is really centred around solutions that can help organisations shift – whether its culture, whether its leadership as we move into this new age.”
Zanele commented that her business focus has always been around the upliftment of women. She said, “I think that the golden thread that runs through all the work I have done is that I have had a very strong focus on putting women into leadership positions and into business opportunities or board positions to try and create that critical mass of women in that top tier of South African business.” She added that she can give specific numbers and data to quantify her success and that this has been the keyway in which she has made a difference.
PLENTY OF CHALLENGES
However, says Zanele, she has faced plenty of challenges – some specific to being a woman, some specific to being a black woman as well as socioeconomic challenges. She added that other challenges included raising capital and finding the right people. Although, she added that as she is in the people game that has not been difficult to resolve.
Zanele commented, “I think that the challenges are very many. We function very much in a patriarchal society, and it’s been incredibly difficult to get the same opportunity that may be presented to a man. We have to fight harder, scrap harder – demand your seat at the table. It hasn’t been easy to have to constantly justify while you are at the table.”
“Very often we are not allowed to take up space and you have to push your way through. As you can imagine that rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But you must really decide what is important to you. Are you determined to take up space? Are you determined to drive what is important to you? Or are you more focussed on the likeability aspect? If you want to succeed you have to be clear about who you are, stand in your truth and find a way to forge forward.”
In speaking of advice to other women, Zanele says that the most important aspect is to know yourself. When you know who you authentically are, it is very difficult for external circumstance to be able to disempower you. She says, “A lot of the disempowerment that we face in business is when we give our power away to situations – we feel that we don’t really belong at the table, or we have imposter syndrome or that someone is doing us a favour, or I need someone to endorse me in order to do. Once you come into a state of knowing who you are, and you are firm in this in all situations, I think that it become so much easier to navigate choppy waters.”
Zanele commented that many people say it’s a man’s world and you have got to learn to play a man’s game. However, she says that she does not believe that. “I am a woman; I am comfortable in that fact, and I believe that I can still access opportunities in my authentic self. It probably works better for me to show up authentically then when I try to show up as somebody else.”
IMPACT GREATER SOCIETY
Speaking of future goals Zanele says that she busy working them out currently. Her coach recently said to her that she had achieved all the goals that she wanted to achieve in this chapter and so she is looking around to see what comes next.
She said, “Very interestingly what I think comes next is being able to impact greater society – to have more reach and put my message and my experience out in different ways and on different forums. I think that is a big one for me. I think that those who follow after us shouldn’t have such a difficult path as we have had if we start to tell our stories. So, I am very much focused on building an intellectual property focused business to be able to put the collective intellectual property around women’s stories and the knowledge that we have accumulated out into the world. I want to be able to help people shift their organisations, shift their careers and probably change a bit how we interact with work as a society.”
Zanele is married and is mom to a son. While a lot of the work that she does is based in Johannesburg, she moved to Durban before the covid lockdown as she wanted to have a change in pace and lifestyle.
In order to create balance in her life Zanele says, “I love being in nature and I am deeply spiritual. I start every day with about two hours meditative walking or practice and mediate throughout the day.”
In conclusion, she says, “I say to people that you can do absolutely anything that you set your mind to. I strive to do anything that I set my mind to, and I want to encourage others to do the same.