CEO of the National Development Agency (NDA), Thamo Mzobe is also a social and community development activist. Mzobe had her start in education, first as a school
teacher, following which she became a principal. She later moved into government,
where she has occupied many and varied roles, including being the Deputy Director
of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature and the Director of the Non-profit Organisations
Unit at the Department of Social Development. Throughout her career,
Mzobe has remained a committed servant, championing service delivery with humility.
We chatted to this top woman about the NDA and the future of business in South Africa.
- How have you implemented genderdriven development in the workplace
The NDA has appointed a high percentage of women in strategic leadership positions. This has encouraged women in the lower ranks to aspire to become leaders. I believe that we are all able to lead; the trick is to start leading from where you are, no matter
your level in an organisation. Once you start there, you can see that it is doable.
Provincial offices headed by women are leading in terms of improved and
impactful community development programmes.
- How has gender empowerment strengthened your organisation?
Women are empathetic. For them, people management is not just cut and dry.
They are nurturers; this balances the masculine dominance in the running and
managing of the organisation.
- What are the current and future trends in your sector?
Recently, in government, more and more women are holding CEO, directorgeneral and deputy director-general positions. Although this still needs improvement, the UN’s Agenda 2063 aims to correct the imbalance when it comes to positions of power.
- What skills do you think leaders of the future are going to need?
Trends of the future are indicating that leaders need to have strong critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, coupled with creativity, people-management skills
and emotional intelligence.
Leaders will need to be innovative, visionary and able to challenge policies and express ideas. Communication is important, as that is the glue that holds the organisation together.
I believe that Ubuntu is key in running any organisation that relies on human beings to implement successful programmes. Leaders must allow the flow of ideas, values and ethics that brings everyone to the centre. No one should be left on the periphery; everyone’s contribution should be taken into account. Every voice in the organisation counts!
Leaders should also strive for leadership that is ethical, and efficient, and embrace intergenerational diversity in ensuring that their organisation remains
- Which female leaders inspire you the most, and why?
My late mother inspired me and continues to do so even after her passing. She impressed upon me that there are places where only character could take you, regardless of education and looks. She encouraged me to never lose my sense of identity and always know what I want out of life.
Humility, respect and understanding
that people are not the same were some of the maxims that she instilled in me.