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Five ‘annoying’ questions we ignore because we are too busy with day-to day survival

Five ‘annoying’ questions we ignore because we…

April 2015

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Time Management: 4 key workplace habits to…

April 2015

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Top Tips for Women in Tech

Top Tips for Women in Tech

As a woman with more than 17 years of work experience in the...

Five ‘annoying’ questions we ignore because we are too busy with day-to day survival

Five ‘annoying’ questions we ignore because we are too …

Business leaders need to be open to being challenged if they...

Time Management: 4 key workplace habits to apply when the going gets tough

Time Management: 4 key workplace habits to apply when t…

In the current down turn of the economy, people want to know...


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The SA Leader Magazine

Digital May 2015 Cover web

In the May issue

Obtaining Venture Capital

How IT Self-Service Provisioning is creating a competitive advantage

The Primacy of Passion and what it means for Marketing & Branding

Technical assessment in the consumer internet age


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Woman & Leadership Featured

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Woman & Leadership

The SA Leader recently spoke to Koo Govender about the woman initiative Phakama, which means ‘Rise up’ in Zulu and in Xhosa, to find out how initiatives such as Phakama Womens Academy is assisting young women in developing women business leaders.


Koo-Govender-webSA Leader: What was the vision behind the academy?

Koo: On joining VWV in 2013, I was VWV’s first woman CEO, and was asked to come up with a CSI initiative. Being a woman and the first woman CEO, I thought to myself how can I empower other women in the marketing industry to become leaders and equip them for the corporate environment, and hence the birth of Phakama.


SA Leader: Why is it important to assist women with better representation in various business industries?

Koo: There are very few women in senior leadership and I feel that if women are equipped adequately from a fundamental stage they will be able to accelerate in their careers quite quickly. Therefore, I am looking to assist women at this stage in order to see them progress in their careers and become senior leaders in South Africa.


SA Leader: In your opinion, what skills do young women starting out in their careers need to accelerate?

Koo: I personally think the academic institutions do a phenomenal job in teaching job entrants academics, however nobody teaches them life skills or EQ (emotional quota). For me, to survive in the corporate environment, you need life skills and EQ. This is where I see the gap and where Phakama assists these young women.


Confidence is one of the life skills which is often missing in these young women. Woman need to be confident to be the CEO etc. Phakama builds up their confidence in order that they can see that they can do anything, which turns into ambition to become leadership material.


SA Leader: Mentorship plays an important part in developing these skills, please tell us how Phakama uses mentorship to assist these young women?

Koo: One of my areas of passion is mentorship and I believe that these young women need to be mentored by women already in leadership which have gone through the journey. Existing women leaders need to assist young women with the kind of experience which was gained during their journey. An example of this is how to handle the corporate environment, as a young woman entering the corporate world; you don’t understand corporate politics so mentoring assists young women to navigate the corporate environment.


SA Leader: How does a potential candidate find out about and qualify for the Phakama academy?

Koo: With VWV being in the marketing industry we approached the University of Johannesburg, AAA and Vega School, to partner with us in providing access for young women to this initiative, as part of this partnership we do an information afternoon at these institutions with the students.


The criteria for candidates are that they need to be final year female students with a 65 per cent pass rate and have a passion towards women empowerment and development.


Many of our first enrollments of Phakama students were from disadvantaged communities and our intention was that we wanted them to take the learning from Phakama and take it back to their communities. This fulfilling one of our philosophies which is to pay it forward.


SA Leader: How has this helped in spreading the knowledge and information gained at Phakama?

Koo: A lot of the young women which attended Phakama have started blogs and started initiatives in their communities and gone on to become Phakama ambassadors already.

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