MPUME LANGA lives by the motto "Life is Beautiful" which is that of living life free from fear and doubt.
Being an accomplished business executive, Mpume has had over 20 years' experience in strategy, leadership and portfolio management in the financial services industry. She holds several qualifications in finance, marketing and executive leadership from various universities in South Africa, China and United Kingdom.
Looking back to see how far she has come, Mpume said that she set her heart on becoming a bank manager after she got into United Bank on a learnership programme. After several junior roles, Mpume has filled management roles in a number of different banks. She was the first African woman to be appointed head of ABSA Private Bank KZN and more recently was regional executive of Bidvest Bank, KZN.
Mpume is a member of The Institute of Directors SA and holds non-executive directorship positions on several boards in South Africa. She sits as the chairperson of Women in Business at the Durban Chamber of Commerce and is the former regional chairperson of the Businesswomen's Association of South Africa.
Her passion for business transformation is evident in the successful implementation of turnaround strategies for various businesses at start-up and corporate levels. Mpume has developed several leadership development programmes for local and multinational organisations in line with their business growth and talent retention strategies.
She is also an active driver of woman and youth empowerment. Her advice to young people is "be clear on a goal you want to achieve and implement a plan that you will follow."
Mpume says that her inspiration to succeed has come from her mother whom she lost over 20 years ago. "She raised three daughters on her own during the most trying times in South Africa. My mother always shared her dream and life lessons with us during storytelling moments. Her dreams somehow became my dreams onto which I built my future."
"My mother's passion to serve her community and her village in Watersmeet with the very little that she had, instilled in me that there is always something to share with your neighbours to make their life a little better than what it was yesterday. My mother supported many other families just to give them a chance of a better life, if not for themselves, then for their children.
I continue to live my life under her influence and hope to be able to share a bit of me with those who can benefit from it." In order to help make her life and her mother's life better, Mpume started working from an early age. Her first business was selling sweets and ice lollies. Mpume learnt to speak English and how to operate a computer in her teens; was runner up in a beauty pageant and won a modelling course. "Modelling made me think I was not good enough. This allowed self-doubt to get in the way - and fear. I reached a really low point in my life and almost ended it, but I was helped out of this pit of despair by the man who was to become my husband," she explained.
Mpume attended school from the age of four, but had to walk for miles, and take a bus, to get there. "Once when I got lost, an old lady of 80 helped me find my way home. There have always been people in my life who have helped me to overcome my fears and find my way home."
In commenting on women's approach to business Mpume says that human beings are born to live their purpose, which is often displayed through their choices and behaviours. "When the purpose is starved, the soul will live in destruction. Women tend to be more in touch with their emotional side, which is where the soul sits, leading to them living more aligned to their purpose.
People with purpose make fair, ethical and dedicated leaders, which is what the world has come to realise. Based on this premise, women look at success and business in a more sustainable way, which is how they tend to approach business and social activism."
Mpume says that looking from where she has come from, she is happy with her accomplishments, and still looks forward to more to come. "I would really like to be more involved in areas that influence the social structures of Africa to seek solutions to move Africa to be an economically thriving continent. The potential in Africa needs to be realised sooner rather than later. It is a big ambition and hope that I will be able to make it a reality. I believe that the future leaders required to make this happen are feminine."
Mpume is married to Ndabo Langa, and they have two children, an eleven-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son. "I love life and count at least one blessing every day. I have been blessed with good children, family and friends in a beautiful country. When I am not working, I am in nature, with family and friends - on a hike, a road trip or somewhere I have not been before. There is so much I still need to see and discover in life, and my spare time is spent seeking those adventures."
If Mpume could advise her younger self, she would say: "You are enough as you are, your past will not define your future. The future is as good as you will choose it to be for yourself."