This Kenyan woman won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her efforts to fight environmental degradation in her country. She established the well-respected Green Belt Movement in 1977, and also champions human rights.
Head of Akwa Group, a distributor of petroleum products, and founder of Aksal Group, a Moroccan giant in luxury goods, retail, department stores, and shopping malls, her company has a 50% stake in Morocco Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in Africa. She holds the exclusive licence to sell high-end fashion brands such as Zara, Gap, and Massimo Duti in Morocco.
Wealthiest woman in Africa, worth $3.3bn, she accumulated her wealth in oil, diamonds, communications and banking. She is the chairwoman of Unitel SA, one of the country’s largest mobile network companies, valued at more than $5 billion.
What our WIFN community is saying about our events …
Thank you for hosting me – it was an awesome experience. I could so relate to Nicky, as my husband is also a stay-at-home dad. And I totally agree with her that, as females, we must never think of ourselves as ‘victims’ but rather be the best that we can be by exploiting every opportunity available to us! – Shuad Cornelius
Thanks for organising a great function the other night. Thoroughly enjoyed it! – Khumo Khaole
I just wanted to thank and compliment you on a fantastic event yesterday. Not only were we very well looked after, but we also left feeling inspired and motivated about the future of the country and the role of women in that future. Please keep us up-to-date about future events. We would love to have the opportunity to reconnect with the amazing people we met yesterday. – Roberta Eggers
Thank you, Alida, for organising such a fantastic evening. We loved it and are looking forward to the next. – Daniella Bergman
Thank you so much Alida for the awesome evening. It was such a great evening. Looking forward to more evenings like this. – Maryka Meldau
I just want to say thanks for the event. I REALLY enjoyed it and thought it was absolutely brilliantly organised and a high quality event. I will most certainly always attend the WIFN events when they are this inspiring and insightful! – Alba Brandt
I just wanted to say thanks so much for an incredible event; it truly was a fantastic evening, and I look forward to growing this network and making a real difference in this industry. –Tessa Lefrere
Thank you for inviting me to the JHB event. I truly believe that this is an excellent initiative in our industry and I must commend you on pioneering it. Well done. – Tanya Thompson
Thank you so much for the excellent event last night. – Renee Coughlan
Can’t wait for the next function—will be counting the days! – Erika Smit
This is just a quick note to say thank you very much for the wonderful breakfast last week. I enjoyed every moment, especially the surprise ‘best question’ award. I am really appreciating my rather fancy honey pot, as is my family! – Caroline Cremen
I wanted to thank you for inviting me to the WIFN breakfast event. It was an enormous privilege to be amongst incredible women and I was able to meet several great contacts. I have registered for a membership and I am looking forward to meeting up with you and the members of WIFN in the future.– Pebetse Tetelo Mabona
I thought Nicky was great – a lot more than I expected. I have to say personally I am just over the whole motivational professional speaker thing – but Nicky was very different and I thought the format was a good one – no wasting of time just straight up talking and answering interesting questions. – Patricia Holburn
It is wonderful to be part of WIFN. Nicky’s message of being true to oneself resonates strongly with me, and her attitude of making a difference in one’s immediate circle, be it personal or business, is truly inspirational. – Christina Forman
With three law degrees, being a Yale World Fellow and South Africa’s 2003 Business Woman of the Year, Nicky Newton-King secured the position of CEO of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2012. She is the first woman to lead this company since its inception over a century ago … Here are some nuggets from Nicky’s conversation with WIFN guests when she was the recent guest speaker at both the Johannesburg and Cape Town events.
Earn your place, make the space
Acclaimed business woman, barrier breaker, mentor, role model … these are just a few of the descriptions that apply to JSE CEO, Nicky Newton-King. Throw in wife, mother to two sons, cyclist, plus the occasional pilates session and you’ve got achievement and inspiration in abundance.
Nicky believes that we are all aspirational, and when you are a leader, many want to share a moment with you and learn from you. She gave the Women In Finance Network (WIFN) more than a moment when she shared her stories, her journey and her insights at their March 2016 Jo’burg meeting at 54 on Bath Hotel.
Strong, independent women have always been a feature of Nicky’s life. “For most of my life I knew about women who worked hard” (her mother ran a farm). From negotiating prices to dinner table conversations – there was no barrier for women. Women could do anything: they had a place at the table.
“You have to earn that place,” said Nicky, who has LLB and LLM degrees, “study hard, learn, work hard and put up your hand.”
Love what you do
But earning that place shouldn’t be a grind. Although there will be sacrifices along the way, the journey should be enjoyable.
Nicky is a firm believer in doing what you love. “I love my job. In the last 20 years I can count five days where I didn’t enjoy it.” One of those days involved retrenchments.
Making it meaningful also makes a difference. “Do what you do in a manner that leaves something for the next generation. That is how I was brought up,” Nicky observed.
For co-founder of Women in Finance Network, Kim Potgieter, this is about being authentic. It’s not status that drives, and will achieve, it’s believing what you do matters.
Create the space where more can flourish
When you have earned your place at the table – make sure there is space for the next achiever. Nicky said that as you climb the ladder, you need to make it easier for people to follow.
“It is tough being at the top, and you have a sense of responsibility to let other people know what it is like.”
Sometimes this takes the form of chatting to someone informally, sometimes it is networking events (note: Join Women in Finance Network!). Nicky shared that formal mentorship programmes can be tricky because of the commitment they require – but there is a lot that can happen informally that is of equal benefit. And don’t discard the energy inspirational women give and get in a networking event, at presentations and conferences.
One thing is clear for Nicky – along the way to the top there are compromises and sacrifices and late nights – that are made easier by a support network. “I have had lots of support in my career, I wouldn’t underestimate the value of support.”
“I think you make choices,” Nicky said. “I’m not the class mother, and I have a lot of support at home and work. But I do what I do and I love what I do.” Nicky has a househusband, with whom these kinds of choices and decision were discussed immediately after he proposed. And while work is one of her loves, she maximises her time and is clear on what she will and won’t do. “I don’t do dinners,” was a welcome sentiment.
Allowing your children to see a strong independent successful woman who flourishes in her career can be very inspirational.
The JSE has the enviable position of an exec that is more than 50% women and a workforce that is more than 50% women. The organisation employs around 500.
When it comes to diversity in the workforce, Nicky says this was a deliberate strategy – because the stock exchange used to be pale and male. It wasn’t a deliberate strategy to attract women, the goal was more diversity, but along the way more and more women saw the JSE was a place where they were more than welcome, and more and more women liked the idea of working there.
“You get to a tipping point where women say – this is a place I can flourish without having to do something bizarre,” said Nicky. So strong has the attraction been that the organisation now needs a few more men to balance the scales!
In the workplace women can also create an environment that allows women to flourish without asking too much. If you think the advice to sleep a lot, take time out for kids’ sports games and concerts is only relevant to women who have reached the top of the ladder – think again. According to Nicky, senior women can to create the right atmosphere where junior staff members would be able to ask for some flexibility that would allow them time for family commitments.
Strong support for South Africa
So, what about those markets and the state of SA Inc? Nicky had just returned from London where she was part of the Investor Roadshow. The team led by Minister Pravin Gordhan was “on top of its game.”
Sentiment appears low in many places across the globe, not just South Africa. Reading the London papers makes you think it is worse in the UK than here. “I think we create our own destiny. If we spend our lives saying it is all gloom and doom, this will happen. There are areas of excellence in South Africa and we need to give them our support. Let’s not make the mistake that the whole system is rotten. We have to give people a chance to succeed.”
Nicky believes that events over the last three months show a completely different mindset and belief, and there are many genuinely working together for a better country. What you read on the front page of the newspaper is not the whole truth.
And although a downgrade to junk status might be a wake-up call, it is not a good thing – a country can take at least five years before regaining investment grade status.
Be honest with your clients
But the economic climate is tough and market volatility looks set to stay for a while yet. “Tighten your seatbelts for a while; it’s an uncertain world, there is volatility and low growth.”
In this environment we need to be honest with our clients, and where we have influence we need to use it. “Get in there and make a difference.” And this is not limited to dinner table conversations – use your voice and be heard in more places that matter.
Below is a snippet of our Nicky Newton-King event that was held in Johannesburg:
In a world of work where women struggle to achieve balance, CFP◦ and Chartered Wealth Financial Planner, Tiffany Venter, draws on childhood memories to learn a valuable lesson.
Tiffany with her mom, Glenda De Wet
I could seldom resist. I would lean over, peer at the contents and feel that vague sense of unease that often comes with envy.
There they lay – symmetrical perfection: fresh white triangles filled with crisp lettuce, tomato and cheese, crusts carefully cut off, and neatly arranged in the lunchbox … evidence of the solicitous care of stay-at-home mothers. Whereas I, daughter of a working mother, rose early to make my own sandwiches, a rather rushed routine resulting in squashed blocks of jam and butter.
The contrast often made me reflect on the unfairness of life. As a young girl, I used to scrutinise those flawless families at school all the time, their perfection extending beyond perfectly prepared lunches … girls whose moms worked at the tuckshop; mothers cheering at every netball match without fail; peers who were fetched at 13:30 sharp, available for private after-school activities to which they were seamlessly ferried; and school projects that always trumped mine, having had hefty parental involvement.
My reality included solitary project efforts, aftercare in primary school and walks to and from high school as a teenager.
I was a child of a mother who worked … and this was a point of contention between us for many of my growing years. I recall often begging my mom to give up her job so that she could join the tuckshop troupe of volunteers, but she was unmoved and unmoving. I made my disappointment clearly known. But, there was never a moment when I did not feel loved.
With maturity comes insight and there came a time when my view started to shift.
I witnessed many of my friends struggling with the responsibility that comes with independence during our university years. They still had to learn basic lessons: tin foil cannot be used in the microwave; spilt milk does not miraculously clean itself up; laundry must be separated into darks and lights.
I started to realise that the independence that my mother encouraged in me from a young age was a gift: if I didn’t prepare my own lunch, I went hungry; if I left my project to the last minute, I had to make a plan. I was expected to help with dinner.
I learned from a young age that I was responsible for my own actions, work, health and, ultimately, my own happiness.
Mother as a Mentor
Another huge advantage became apparent when I was deciding on a career path.
I needed someone who had worked hard to make a success of her own career to be a sounding board, someone who understood the various paths I was considering. I had seen my mother’s dedication in her own career, and this experience stood me in good stead as I entered the working world. The challenges of a first job are inevitable; guidance and sound advice are invaluable.
All novice employees need to understand the behaviour expected in a working environment. My mother showed me when I was being unreasonable and always offered me the alternative perspective.
I have realised that my mother is my role model. Not only did she do a great job raising me and my siblings while holding down a full-time job, she also kept her life in balance. She makes her health and fitness a priority; she makes time to see her friends and family; she is open-minded, smart and dedicated. She wins the genuine admiration of those close to her, colleagues, family and friends.
A daughter’s dedication
So, with much gratitude, I would like to say this to career mothers:
Being a working mom can have such a positive impact on your daughters (and sons!). A woman who is empowered, challenged and has a strong sense of purpose is inspiring to younger women. She can help, mentor and guide them well into their adult years, resulting in a lifelong relationship of respect.
I recognise that it is difficult for mothers not to feel guilty when their children are young and those children demand more time and attention. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly long-term benefits of having a powerful female role model.
Thank you, Mom, for your love and many sacrifices …
Jean Archary is a proud mum to her seven-year-old daughter, Taria. She is a specialist in the financial services field, a Certified Financial Planning Professional® and a certified workplace coach. Financial education is a topic close to her heart. Jean also holds a BA in Psychology and Communication, and a postgraduate diploma in Advanced Tax.
Raised in a single-parent home with three siblings, she was forced to learn many money lessons early on in life. This prompted her to start financial discussions with her daughter at a young age too. Even with an extensive background in financial planning, Jean found it challenging to explain financial concepts to her daughter and wondered if other parents were struggling too. And so through their money conversations, the concept of Mrs Spiggles, the flying piggy bank, was brought to life by both mother and daughter.
Mrs Spiggles hopes to share important money messages with children, regardless of their financial upbringing, with the hope that they are better able to manage their finances throughout their life journeys.
Like our Facebook page, Mrs Spiggles and her Money Tales, to keep up to date with future developments, information and practical tips on educating kids about money.
Series name: Mrs Spiggles and her Money Tales
Title of book: Taylor’s Birthday Surprise
The first book in the series “Mrs Spiggles and her Money Tales” is Taylor’s Birthday Surprise, where Taylor’s mum invites Mrs Spiggles to visit her on her seventh birthday to share some important money messages. Taylor learns about how her parents earn money and the importance of budgeting.
Cathryn Gordon (also known as Cat) is a 33 year old artist born in Somerset West, Cape Town. Cat is hearing impaired and has worn a hearing aid from a young age. She completed a three-year Art Studies diploma at the Andrew Owen School of Fine Art. This was the first book Cat was commissioned to illustrate. Communication occurred via whatsapp and email and all drawings were hand drawn.
There are some books you read that you know will change your life.
Kim Potgieter recently read Goddesses Never Age by Dr Christiane Northrup and was so inspired that she wants to encourage all women to read it.
Apologies, men, this one is for us women, but be assured that you will benefit as much (well, almost as much!). Having read it, watch for the materialisation of the ageless goddess before your eyes … Kim promises your lives will be much more pleasurable!
Christiane’s central premise in her book is this: age really is just a number, and agelessness means not buying into the idea that a number determines everything, from your state of health to your attractiveness to your value. You can beyounger at 60 than you were at 30 because you’ve changed your attitude and lifestyle.
Ageless living is courageous living
It means being undistracted by the petty dramas of life because you have enough experience to know what’s not worth worrying about and what ought to be prioritised.
Goddesses Never Age is not your run-of-the-mill self-help book. It challenges us to relinquish myths that we have internalised and that age us … myths about women, about our relationships with each other, about our bodies.
In this book, Christiane challenges us to grow older with gusto rather than to deteriorate with age. Then, she says, you won’t be old and you won’t be young: you will be something else … an ageless goddess!
“We are not proponents of long life. We are proponents of joyful life, and when you find yourself in joy, the longevity usually follows. We do not count the success of a life by its length; we count it by its joy,” says Christiane.
People with positive perceptions about ageing live on average seven-and-a-half years longer than people who don’t hold that belief.
Being vivacious and fully engaged by our experiences and enjoying our creativity protects our brain health … and keeps Alzheimer’s away.
Your thoughts and your beliefs are the single most important indicators of your state of health.
The anti-ageing prescription is to love life, to try new things and to savour your experiences.
Happy reading! The WiFN would love you to share your Ageless Goddess story with us.
07 January 2016 Sarah Coetzee, freelance writer based in Cape Town
Cape Town’s members of the Women in Finance Network graced The Bay hotel in Camps Bay for the final (and second ever) event of the year. Providing a platform to meet, share and relax with like-minded women from the industry, the Network creates a welcoming community; the business cards circulate, the contacts are made.
Attired in an array of looks – bright, monochrome, sparkly, colourful, prints and heels all round – the ladies of the Women in Finance Network all displayed their own personal styles (whether they realised it or not!). This was especially fitting considering the topic of discussion from the speaker at the event.
Former Elle magazine editor, recognised style icon and ‘salon pioneer’, Jackie Burger, was the guest speaker for the evening. Giving the audience food for thought, she took them through her reflections on the language of style. “Style is not about clothing, fashion or trends – it’s about self-expression which is grounded in your belief in yourself,” she explained.
Drawing the audience closer into a more intimate circle, Jackie encouraged the ladies to wear what makes them feel comfortable. “People perceive your self-confidence which is evident when you feel comfortable in what you are wearing,” she declared, “so dress for yourself; not for someone else. And don’t wear what you think you are ‘supposed to’ wear.”
Jackie volunteered an abundance of sage advice: link what you wear to who you are; use fashion as a tool – don’t allow it to overwhelm you; learn to love how you look; organise your wardrobe; and whenever you buy an item the motto to live by is ‘cut, quality, fit’.
WIFN is committed to connecting women with experts and leaders in the industry who can offer guidance, mentorship, support and opportunities for growth. Jackie Burger is a doyenne from the fashion industry who offered advice, consideration and wisdom on a subject that is key to so many women’s self-esteem and confidence.
Celynn Erasmus is a registered dietician, professional speaker and writer, co-authoring the best-selling Fast food for sustained energy. Joni Peddie, CEO of The BizComm® Group, facilitates, coaches and speaks on personal growth, team performance and sustainable transformation. She is also the co-founder of the Enneagram Institute in South Africa. Together they have established the Resilient Energy Centre (www.resilientenergycenter.com) and are helping people live healthier, more balanced lives. Their WIFN presentation had women off their feet and getting healthy hormones pumping out energy and happiness.
What I love about their tips is that they are easy and quick to implement … and have a great impact on a busy lifestyle:
Are you time-poor and stress-rich? Fuel, Activate, Behave for a FABulously energetic life:
Fuel your body to unlock energy and vitality, and manage your waistline
Activate your body and brain to manage stress and ensure mental agility
Behave authentically to play to your strengths and collaborate more powerfully.
Breathing deeply is a built-in stress reliever
Daily wins become major victories
Don’t miss out on Celynn and Joni’s excellent book, The F+A+B Quotient.
As a successful business owner and life coach, Colleen Joy-Page has a wide spectrum of messages that benefit women. For her evening with the women of WIFN, however, she chose the topic that is closest to her heart: helping women discover their authentic identity. This frees them from seeking to live up to unrealistic expectations – most often created by themselves – and from operating in a survival mode that results in them feeling either superior or inferior to others. Genuine relationships are formed, Colleen says, when we are “equal to” each other – nothing to prove.
While you really need to attend an Apple Tree workshop to get the full benefit of Colleen’s wisdom, we have distilled these few seeds to give you a taste of it:
Your Apple Tree is your true, natural, liberated you, and teaches you teaches us that we don’t have to “become” someone.
Inner obstacles like fear, procrastination, carrying others’ burdens need to be transformed to free our dreams.
Instead of living a life of doing, make yours a life of being
Everyone has dreams. But it is what you do with these dreams that is important. Dreams, once you make the decision to act on them, can become reality.
Glynis Nunn, Australian Olympic Champion
There is no shortage of articles on the lack of women in the financial planning industry. Women seem reluctant to enter this still male-dominated career, and, it appears that when they do, the obstacles are numerous. In Wendy Phaka’s story here, you will read of courage, commitment and the care of colleagues, and how these transformed her challenges into opportunity …
I was 20 years old, and had recently completed my Certificate in Human Resources. I was full of hope for the start of a new career, but, the sad reality of South Africa is that, without any experience or contacts in the industry, finding a job seems an insurmountable challenge.
When my aunt, who worked at Chartered Wealth Solutions as a tea lady, took maternity leave, I filled in for her temporarily.
Some of the staff members – known affectionately within the company as the Chartered Crew – chatted to me about my plans for the future. As we got to know each other, they must have spotted something special in me – I like to think it is my commitment to doing whatever I do with excellence. I have also always held to the belief that I can improve my situation by working really hard.
Before I knew it, I was offered the opportunity to become part of a financial planning team as an administrator. This meant that I would be working with the team’s para-planners in attending to client queries, dealing with relevant companies regarding tax and penalties, and following up on queries with transactions.
I was both nervous and excited to be offered the position, but the practice’s team assured me that I would grow to be competent, with the right amount of mentoring.
When I started out, I was aware that I required some assistance in honing my skills. To begin with, I could not pronounce English words properly, my home language being Sepedi. Donovan Adams, CFP®, one of our financial planners, was willing to help. He heard that I lacked confidence when speaking over the phone. Donovan and I met three times a week to work on my pronunciation.
I, of course, also knew nothing about financial planning and its processes. Raquel Rodrigues, a para-planner, dedicated her time to training me in financial planning, our company values and goals – we spent two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoons every day going through what I needed to know. And the support did not end there …”
My future in financial planning has become more certain now that Chartered is funding my studies: I am studying towards a Certificate in Financial Planning.
With this foundation, I have hope of a bright future. I am honoured to be an employee at this company and am grateful for the opportunity I was offered. Without the commitment to mentoring me demonstrated by so many here, I would not have achieved the milestones that I have.
Wendy with one of the children at Tumi and Karabo Child Care Centre in Alexandra, a start-up business supported by Chartered in 2014.