Jacquie Bhana, after following a successful career spanning over 30 years in the corporate world, and after much thought about her future goals, has recently started her own business initiatives. She commented, “I wanted flexibility with my time, to dance to my own drumbeat, and to make an impact beyond the gates of a single organisation.” Her primary business, Jacquie Bhana Consulting, focuses on coaching and mentoring of leaders, managers and graduates in general as well as offering teambuilding interventions. After working at executive level and having worked her way up the corporate ladder, she knows that she can add enormous value in this space. A strong need nationally has been identified for the development of graduates, so this is one of Jacquie’s keen interest and focus areas. The second focus group is that of women. Jacquie says, “I can relate well to them, having been through my own corporate journey as a lone female in a man’s world.” A second leg of her consulting business is that of mental health counselling for executives and leaders. Another venture that Jacquie is pursuing is that of a start-up for exclusive ladies’ garments. She has identified a manufacturer, and is close to launching this enterprise.
ACHIEVING MANY GOALS Jacquie has achieved a number of goals at business and community level. At corporate level, she has worked extensively on increasing the number of graduates employed; focussing on bright young talent, and leading their mentorship programmes to build their capability and productivity in the business. In this regard, she has previously formed strategic relationships with tertiary institutions. Jacquie has also worked vigorously at getting young women into technical apprentice roles, in an environment that was at first hostile. However, building a critical mass of female apprentices helped to make it easier to build diversity at this level. Another area that she impacted was increasing the number of women in leadership, by recruiting, then supporting them accordingly. At a community level, Jacquie is an active member of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she has been elected onto the board as First Vice President. Jacquie works with the Chamber’s leadership team to address the many challenges experienced in the city, such as during the looting and the flooding. “I led the task of working with various players in the country, to get the shelves in the supermarkets re-stacked, having engaged with various retailers and transporters. The Chamber leadership kept a close eye on the progress being made in this space and their leaders in turn worked with senior government officials, to facilitate this process at a higher level.” After the floods, Jacquie worked with various community leaders and communities to get blankets, clothes and food transported by helicopters to inaccessible places, facilitated by the Chamber. She also linked up with the organisations, Women on Boards and Limitbreakers, to get food and clothes to areas that they were servicing.
TRULY INSPIRATIONAL One of the people who inspires Jacquie is Nokuthula (Nokky) Ndlovu – who is young, driven and a successful global influencer. Nokky is the founder of the organisations, Limitbreakers and Women on Boards, both of which Jacquie is a member. Jacquie commented, “Through our sessions I have met incredible women who have been truly inspirational, such as Mandisa Dlamini, who runs the Gugu Dlamini Foundation. Mandisa’s mother was Gugu Dlamini, who was stoned to death in the township, because she was an HIV activist. Mandisa continues her work to this day, herself having overcome the toughest challenges, and making a difference in the community.” “I am also inspired by Palesa Phili, the CEO of the Durban Chamber, a woman who is driven, fearless and energetic. She tirelessly tackles and deals with her mandate, i.e. advocating for business and being in business for a better world - in the interest of ensuring that Durban is a viable, economically successful city, and is effectively able to garner support of various players, from international government delegations and international investors, through to national government leadership.” Other international leaders who Jacquie has found inspirational include the ex-Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and the young Afghani and world-renowned activist for the education of females, Malala Yousafzai.
LEAVING THE CORPORATE WORLD Jacquie says that her biggest challenge ever has been leaving the corporate world and working in the exciting and exhilarating world of small business. She said, “Getting used to the idea of no longer having the name of a blue-chip company and a senior title has been difficult, and having no admin staff and technicians for IT support has been tough. However, there has been a major upward spike in my own empowerment and capability, and it has been a great journey so far.”
MAKING A DIFFERENCE “My future goals are to make a difference to the very universe I am targeting to work with, i.e., getting our youth capable, employable, competent and confident; the same with women, executives and managers” – in line with our national agenda. I want my mental health counselling to take off. In this regard, I want to grow my business and profitability by 10% per annum, and to employ staff and get them to grow – and I want to be an inspiration to other women who want to be upwardly mobile or even open their own business. In advising young women Jacquie says, “I think it is important to be good at what you do, to grow incrementally, develop credibility, show integrity and then move from there. Women also have to be confident, strong and not hide their lights under a bushel. They need to find their voice and raise their voice, appropriately.” Jacquie has been married to Mahesh for 30 years, who is a successful Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, and Fertility Specialist who owns the Durban Fertility Centre with his partner at the St Augustines Netcare Hospital. Their 20-yearold daughter Kereena is following in her dad’s footsteps; she is studying medicine at UCT and loves it. In her off-work times Jacquie loves reading, spending time with family and going to the gym. She also plays golf socially and enjoys travelling which she thinks is the best education.