Executive head: client services partner for Africa, Vodacom
Inspired by the projects she completed as part of a Junior Achievement South Africa programme which saw her participate in a global entrepreneurship conference at the age of just 14, Vumile Msweli has collected an enviable number of qualifications in commerce, financial planning, life coaching and leadership. These have paved the way to her current role as executive head: client services partner for Africa at Vodacom, where she deals with service Strategy for Africa for Vodafone for top tier corporate clients.
Refusing to rest on her laurels, she also holds various postgraduate diplomas from Gibs, Gimpa in Ghana, as well as New York and Harvard universities. She is currently working on her doctorate in applied leadership and coaching through Switzerland’s University for Graduate Studies in Management.
Despite having accumulated so many qualifications, some of her greatest learnings came from outside her coursework. “I think the greatest challenge for me having failed my honours in accounting was to accept failure and know that things don’t always go according to plan,” she says. “Overcoming that ego-crushing failure and dusting myself off, learning to gracefully let go of a dream that was clearly not meant for me was not an easy feat. I am grateful for it in retrospect, but at the time it was quite a challenge.”
She also has a passion for property that saw her purchase her first home at just 22 years of age; she now owns six homes and plans to expand her portfolio.
Vumile invests a significant amount of time in philanthropic work, volunteering on weekends to teach high school students at Soweto’s Altmont Secondary School. This work inspired her to write the book Imbokodo Inspiring about successful women in business. Set to be published this year, it has interviews with the likes of Yolanda Cuba, Judy Dlamini, Daphne Mashile-Nkosi, Sibongile Sambo, Lillian Barnard, Shireen Chengadu and Sindi Koyana-Mabaso among others.
Even though she engages with so many inspiring women, Vumile is most inspired by her own mother, who completed her postgraduate degree in her 40s, and started her own bakery business in her 50s. “The words ‘stagnant’ and ‘complacent’ don’t exist in her vocabulary, and she does everything with the most wonderful smile!” — Kerry Haggard