Young South Africans: Africa Leadership Initiative

A chapter of the Mail & Guardian‘s 200 Young South Africans You Must Take to Lunch

Neo Muyanga
Composer/musician Neo studied the Italian Madrigal tradition with choral maestro Piero Poclen in Italy and audio engineering at Downtown Studios with Philip Nel. In 1996 Neo formed the acoustic duo, Blk Sonshine, with Masauko Chipembere. After touring South Africa and Swaziland they toured the United States for two years, working the poetry, hip-hop and acoustic folk circuits of Los Angeles and New York. In 2002 Neo released his solo album, The Listening Room.

In 2003 he created the music for the acclaimed documentary Cosmic Africa and in 2004 he composed a isicathamiya voice ensemble work for the play The Fireraisers, directed by Mark Fleishman. In 2005 Neo composed choral songs for The Sweet Metal Project in the United Kingdom and created original music for Jazzart’s Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprints. His recent work was for the Remix Dance company. Neo currently tours with his solo show using vocals, guitar, piano and mesinko, a traditional Ethiopian instrument.

Lunch spot: Café du Cap, Church Street, Cape Town

David Kau
David is South Africa’s most well-loved satirist and comic. He is also a columnist for the Times newspaper and an entrepreneur who has turned his funny bone into a lucrative business.

Born in Kroonstad, David has no holy cows and often helps South Africa to laugh at its growing pains, be it changes in leadership (you should hear him on the subject of ANC president Jacob Zuma) or on how we treat foreign citizens. He rocks most audiences from corporate crowds (he is arguably the most popular performer on the business events circuit) and draws huge and young audiences to his regular “Blacks Only” gigs.

Humour is transportable for David. He regularly performs across the continent and abroad.

Tholoana Qhobela
Tholoana is the strategic planning director at Ogilvy & Mather Rightford Searle-Tipp & Makin (Gauteng). She has been in advertising since she completed her honours degree in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester in 1988. Tholoana joined O&M in 1996 and heads a department of strategic planners, researchers and information specialists. She is responsible for the departmental budget, the development of intellectual capital and quality control of strategies. She also has to oversee the development and writing of communications strategies for a variety of clients including KFC, Kimberly-Clark, Kodak, Lever Ponds, Motorola, Nestle, Talk Radio 702 and SuperSport.

Lunch spot: Lai-Lai Garden, Illovo

Gugu Msibi
Gugu is a BA Journalism and Economics graduate and has an MBA from Bond University, Australia. In 2000 she co-founded Spin Media, a black-owned communications consultancy. As executive director of Spin, she is responsible for media training, communications development and public affairs strategies. Gugu was a former marketing and communications executive at the State Information Technology, where she was responsible for creating and managing the brand. She was also a political journalist at the SABC, worked as a senior producer for SAfm and was head of broadcast training at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. Gugu is a strategy and media adviser to Tokyo Sexwale, the SABC, the Land Bank, Gauteng Shared Services, Parliament, Transnet and the department of home affairs. She is also a non-executive director of Powertel, a telecommunications company.

Lunch spot: Tinswalo at Waterfall next to Kyalami

Nkuli Mkhize
Nkuli joined the Development Bank of Southern Africa in 2006 and is currently the business development and stakeholder relations manager. In 1999 she started out at Sedgewick Noble Lowndes and after a few months joined Investment South Africa as executive assistant in the office of the chief executive/deputy director general. In 2000 she was promoted to investment manager for the automotive and metals sector.

In May 2001 Nkuli was posted to serve as the economic counsellor/foreign economic representative at the South African embassy in Tel Aviv and a year later was transferred to serve in the same position in Dubai. In 2005 she returned to South Africa and joined Wesgro as an executive manager, working on trade and investment promotion. Nkuli’s current work at DBSA is in the area of development finance. She is completing a master’s in development finance at Stellenbosch University.

Mondli Makhanya
Mondli is the editor of the Sunday Times. He is a highly respected figure in journalism and has become synonymous with political media reporting both in print and television political analysis. After spending a stint as editor of the Mail & Guardian he returned to the Sunday Times, where he had previously been the deputy managing editor for politics and policy.

Mondli started his career in journalism at the Weekly Mail in 1990 as a business writer and the paper’s bureau chief in Cape Town. He has also done an internship at Newsweek magazine in New York. He was also a political writer and deputy news editor of the Star, and associate editor of Sunday World. Mondli is a regular commentator on BBC, SAfm, Radio 702 and numerous television current affairs and news programmes. He is also on the national council of the South African National Editors’ Forum.

Lunch spot: Wombles, Parktown, Johannesburg

Khumo Seopela
Khumo has a journalism degree from Rhodes University, a BSc (MED) Hons (Psych) and an MSc (Clinical Psychology) from Medunsa. She has 10 years’ experience in the South African mining industry, working in various human resource-related roles and in a variety of capacities, including transformation, human resource consulting and strategic planning, BEE and related community empowerment, human resource turnaround projects, communications, shared services applications and roll outs of IT systems. She was the head of transformation at De Beers Consolidated Mines and a member­ of the company’s executive committee.

Prior to assuming her current role as vice-president of Human Capital for the South African Operations at Lonmin Plc, Khumo worked for Anglo American Platinum Corp as the group human resource planning consultant and has also occupied senior human resource roles with Transnet and Goldfields of South Africa. She continues to deliver limited clinical psychology services in her spare time.

Lunch spot: Sideplate at 10 Bompas, Johannesburg

William Davis
A graduate of the University of Port Elizabeth (now the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University), William has always displayed a passion for both sport and business. He attributes his personal­ growth and understanding of fellow citizens to this fact. He believes that leadership, teamwork, motivation, discipline and friendship are at the heart of playing sport and being active.

Having captained provincial cricket teams, William later transferred his passion into coaching. He qualified as a UCBSA cricket coach and completed the National Sports Council Sports Leader programme. He launched an indoor cricket school in the Eastern Cape and was also an active member of the team involved in the start-up of the International Cricket Academy based at the University of Port Elizabeth.

William has global experience within the sports services industry, having implemented a number of developmental initiatives throughout the United Kingdom. He spent just short of four years abroad, running programmes to encourage young people to live healthy and active lifestyles as well as turning good practice into common practice by creating pathways for educators and coaches through a structured knowledge management programme. William has worked across the developmental spectrum, from grass-roots level through to high-performance sport.

He founded Sporting Opportunities, a national organisation that uses sport as a catalyst to inspire values-based leadership among young people of South Africa. Sporting Opportunities brings young people together from different backgrounds, to share their sporting abilities and to learn from one another, building bridges between people on a community level and breaking down barriers and negative stereotypes. A powerful platform is created to positively influence young people regarding the “real-life impacts” facing them today as well as addressing priority areas such as moral regeneration and social cohesion. William’s vision is to produce a new generation of healthy, innovative, values-based and responsible young community leaders­ ensuring a sustainable future for Africa.

Lunch spot: Espresso, Parkhurst

Fred Swaniker
Fred is an MBA Stanford University graduate and has a BA in Economics, magna cum laude, from Macalester College in Minnesota. He is the founder and chief executive­ of the African Leadership Academy, a world-class school that aims to develop future generations of African leaders. Fred was inspired to launch the academy in 2003 while searching for a way to accelerate Africa’s development. He was struck by the disproportionate impact that a few individuals such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu could have in transforming African society. This realisation spurred Fred on to envision an institution that would increase the supply of individuals of such calibre who can positively impact on society.

Prior to this, Fred launched the Summer Academy in Cape Town, a youth leadership development programme. He also worked at McKinsey and Company, where he was a strategic adviser to the management teams of large companies in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania.

Lunch spot: Africa Leadership Academy

Heather Sonn
Heather now works for Barclays in London in its emerging markets division. Previously, she was chief executive of Legae Securities, where she successfully transformed and positioned the company. Heather holds a BA from Smith College and an MSc from Georgetown, both United States universities. She worked as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch in New York before returning to South Africa. She is a member of the Africa Leadership Initiative and sits on various boards.

Nicola Galombik
Nicola is a BA Hons (film and drama) graduate and has an MA in cinema and media studies from New York University. She has also completed a Global Executive Development Programme. She is managing director of Converse, a business she started in 2005 with partners Siven Maslomoney and Lebo Nke. Converse helps organisations to develop and implement strategic internal communications to support change, people performance and development.

Nicola’s work includes the development of public education strategies for large public-sector organisations as well as internal change communication strategies and implementation. She has previously worked at the Independent Broadcast Authority and the SABC. She has more than 15 years’ experience in the field of broadcasting, including television production, broadcast platform management and strategy, educational media, and regulation and policy development. Her work at Converse includes consulting in the area of broadcasting, media and convergence, focusing on content strategy, editorial management and business planning.

Lunch spot: Cité in Dunkeld, Johannesburg

Raenette Taljaard
Raenette, a former DA MP, served as shadow minister of finance from 2002 and was a member of the portfolio committee on finance. She also served on numerous other parliamentary committees such as the standing committee on public accounts during the arms deal investigation. In 1999 when Raenette became an MP, she was, at 25, the youngest woman to have been elected to the South African Parliament. She resigned from Parliament in 2005.

Raenette is a Yale World Fellow, a Fellow of the Emerging Leaders Programme of the Centre for Leadership­ and Public Values (at UCT’s Graduate School of Business and Duke University) and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. She holds a BA in Law from RAU (University of Johannesburg); a BA (Hons) in Political Science, cum laude, RAU (University of Johannesburg); an MA in Political Science (International Relations) cum laude, RAU (University of Johannesburg); and an MSc in Public Administration and Public Policy, cum laude, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Raenette is currently the director of the Helen Suzman Foundation and lectures part-time at Wits’ Graduate School of Public and Development Management. She is an alumni of the Prince of Wales Business and Environment Programme (University of Cambridge Programme and Industry) and lectures extensively, both locally and abroad, on the privatisation of security, military outsourcing and the need for regulation.

Tamara Esau
Tamara was admitted as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in July 2005, after spending more than four years progressing­ through the managerial ranks. As an audit partner at PwC, her core responsibility is to plan and execute audit assignments. This involves ensuring that all audit risks areas are managed to an acceptable level to issue the appropriate audit opinion. One aspect of the audit includes attending audit committee meetings and presenting audit plans. The members of these committees include the chief financial officers and chief executives of the relevant holding companies.

Tamara was recently appointed Human Capital Partner of the Assurance Western Cape Practice. She has various responsibilities in terms of recruitment, recognition and retention of talent. As part of this role, she coordinates five other partners in ensuring that the firm’s objectives are being met in whatever initiatives are being undertaken. Tamara is a member of the National Transformation Steering Committee and chaired the Century City Employment Equity Committee from July 2005 to July 2007 and the Assurance Transformation Committee for the same period. As a member of ABASA and AWCA, she is involved in various initiatives such as school visits, tutoring initiatives at universities and trainee workshops, which are aimed at increasing the number of black chartered accountants in South Africa.

Lulama Letlape
Lulama is an executive at Mercedes Benz South Africa. Previously she was responsible for corporate image and corporate brand at Telkom. She holds a BA, an HDE and a BEd degree. She is currently completing her thesis on leadership challenges in local government for her MA in Public and Development Management. Lulana’s started her career as a high-school teacher. She has worked in various organisations including Ntsika Enterprise Promotion Agency and Telkom Foundation World Vision South Africa. Lulana enjoys spending time with her family, playing golf, travelling and reading.

Lunch spot: Butcher Shop & Grill, Sandton



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