Vumile Msweli, the phenomenal Women in Business

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Vumile, like many other young women, was insecure and anxious about delving into business. Fast forward into the future she is now a career coach, emerging property mogul and influencer. We had a chat with her to find out what some of her successful habits are and what she thinks about the work-life-balance conundrum women battle with on a daily. This is what she had to say:

Tell us about your early days as a young woman in business. What was it like, and how is it different now that you are older?
Starting out in my career I, like many young people was insecure and anxious about delving into business. I was not clear about where I wanted to go, now as an adult and having have been in business for a few years I have greater clarity about my goals.

My desire is no longer just financial accumulation but making an impact in Africa as a whole. This is the reason why I am in the career coaching space and helping both graduates and executives navigate from the unknown to achieving their goals at an accelerated pace.  I want to leave a legacy that makes life easier for my continent for me having existed. I guess it is the natural ascension in Maslow's hierarchy.

In your interview with Iman Rappetti, you mentioned that you bought your first property while you were 22 years old. Most 22 year olds would opt for a car or something similar. Why property?
Growing up in a family where income generating assets were often encouraged to be acquired it came naturally for me to sacrifice the luxurious German cars in the short term in order to acquire an appreciating asset. I guess it also helps that I love property, so playing in that space gave me great joy.

Iceland has now made it illegal to pay men more than women in the workplace. Looking at South Africa now, how long do you think it will take us to have such laws implemented?
Ice-land has continued to be a forerunner in the women empowerment movement. I believe South Africa has gotten it right in the policy and legislative space of women empowerment.  This has not seemed to translate into the realms of corporate; civil and government. I am optimistically cautious that this will change but to speculate as to the exact date and if it will ever happen is difficult, but I remain hopeful that the day is coming soon for us here in South Africa.

Women like Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey say 'work-life-balance' is an illusion. What is your take on it? Is it an illusion or something we should strive for especially as women who juggle a full time job and a household?
I believe the work-life-balance myth is a fallacy that has held us in bondage to an unattainable ideal. It leaves many women guilt ridden with not getting the balance right. I am an advocate for work life integration because there are different priorities at any given time and your focus and energy must shift accordingly. Also performing at a constant stress inducing pace isn't sustainable. But by integrating work and life the stress dissipates and allows for flexibility in approach and in achieving a healthier lifestyle.

What advice do you have for young South African women about succeeding in the corporate world?
It would be to design a career they love. It would be to purposefully identify what skills they want to learn, what exposure they would like to gain, and what kind of boss they would like to work for and where they want to see their career going. After identifying these, it is critical to then find a mentor who is experienced in the realm of corporate, a coach who is an expert in career advancement and a sponsor who can advocate for your growth in your organisation. This trio will help you achieve your corporate career goals.

Harvard University has a Positive Psychology class – the university's most popular class. You took a Happiness class as well. Do you think we have placed disproportionate value on attaining success and material over our own happiness and wellbeing?

I think we are constantly in a pursuit of happiness and wellbeing, our gravest error is to believe that material gain and financial success equates to the happiness we seek. This is not always the case. Happiness and joy are internal work and not always reflected in how our external circumstances look.

What are some of the successful habits you have adopted over time and apply every day?
I think for me vision boarding has been critical in aiding achieve goals I have set for myself. I look at my vision board every day and it gives me a great sense of focus as to what I have to do that day to achieve my life's vision. I am a big believer in centring yourself, so I spend my morning having my quiet time, setting my intention for the day and praying.

Vumile Msweli completed her matric at St. Mary's DSG with an A Average.
She holds a BCom Accounting Sciences from the University of Pretoria and a BCom: Financial Planning Honours from the University of Johannesburg. She has completed various postgraduate executive courses from GIBBS, New York University as well as Harvard and holds a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of London, currently doing her Doctorate in Applied Leadership and Coaching at Switzerland's University for Graduate Studies in Management.

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