By Fiona Wakelin
Successful business woman Khanyisile Kweyama whose impressive list of tenures include: first woman Executive Director, Anglo American SA; CEO, BUSA; and Chairperson, Brand SA – speaks to us about leadership, COVID-19, mining, agriculture and the value of mentorship.
As a successful business woman who has headed up numerous companies, what advice do you have for business leaders in these times of change?
The biggest lesson for business leaders during the COVID pandemic is the value of innovation and business solutions that take into account that it is no longer “business as usual”.
COVID has put restrictions on how businesses operate. Additional resources are required to maintain safety in the workspace, with employees being trained on the virus and how it is managed. The virtual office is a discipline that now has to be integrated into how businesses have operated in the past – and the Catch-22 is how to maintain social distancing when, in the days of “business as usual”, people were expected to be team players – which involves an element of working together.
In summary this period calls for leadership that is innovative, agile, ever-evolving, attuned and empathetic.
How has the nature of leadership evolved over the last decade?
It has evolved from patriarchal and instructional to being inclusive and transformational – embracing the innovation that comes with 4IR.
What key factors have enabled you to build cohesive management teams?
When a team leader is inclusive and people have ownership of their work from the onset through to delivery, they thrive and strive to continually improve.
You were the first woman to become executive director at Anglo America in South Africa. What is your view of the future of mining in our country and its role in driving investment?
Mining remains a key player and bedrock of the South African economy. The next phase for mining is a greater focus on beneficiation – which will drive further investment into the sector.
What role do you foresee South Africa playing in the region post COVID-19?
South Africa has huge, impressive infrastructure which serves to ensure it will be competitive post the COVID pandemic. The country’s role will therefore continue to be a springboard for the economies in the region.
Do you foresee working remotely impacting on the role of women in organisations?
Working remotely is beneficial for women as we have more time to spend with children and family. Women still are the nucleus of the household and my personal experience in working during this lockdown period has been that I have been able to participate in schooling my grandchildren – it has brought us closer
What have been some of your major highlights?
Many of the corporates I have worked for have provided me with amazing experiences The then- Chamber of Mines exposed me to the region and the global mining sector; my tenure at Brand SA presented me with the opportunity to be a marketer for South Africa and my tenure as Chair of the interim board at SABC resulted in my playing a role in the revival of that key institution
Your wish list for the next 5 years?
Agriculture – my current business ventures are in agriculture – food security is key.
What message do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
To grasp the moment and position themselves for the new normal we will be operating under in the post-COVID era.
If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you use it?
Mentor more young people, particularly women