“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein




Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Inc.

Corporate attorney and senior associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, Thandiwe Nhlapho, 30, is a young South African driving the country’s inclusive, equal and sustainable future through her legal expertise. “Growing up as an overachiever and very competitive at school was a way to conceal my lack of financial resources and exposure,” she says. Despite her challenging background from a small township in the Vaal, Thandiwe is inspirational to the youth, particularly those with little to no access to opportunities. She has an impressive track record of servant leadership and driving change in shaping the future. At Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, she has been allocated an additional role to facilitate a training programme for junior lawyers. She teaches or has participated in educational programmes through various institutions and publishes legal articles to ensure that the law is freely and equally accessible. Thandiwe is a second-year PhD student at Wits University. The body of work encapsulated in her dissertation, seeks to overcome unnecessary legislative over-regulation and red tape for businesses, particularly for SMMEs. She is a non-executive director of an NPO focused on combating HIV and youth unemployment. Thandiwe was selected to participate in the International Lawyers for Africa flagship programme for three months in London.

  • PhD Candidate (Witwatersrand University)
  • Master of Laws (Witwatersrand University)
  • Bachelor of Laws (Witwatersrand University)
  • Company Law I and II Competency Certificate (Witwatersrand University)
  • Grade 12 (Rutasetjhaba Secondary School)

  • Law School Dean’s List, University of the Witwatersrand (Top 10% in the law faculty) 
  • Wits University: Certificate for Outstanding Performance in Introduction to Constitutional Law, Law of Delict, Law of Succession, 
  • Labour Law: Sedibeng Municipality Scholarship; 
  • Top 3 Matric Achievers, Sedibeng West District

Growing up as an overachiever and very competitive at school was a way to conceal my lack of financial resources and exposure. The drive to excel and my ambition to win have inevitably led to my success as an adult whereby working hard and going the extra mile has become a part of me. 

To value and develop relationships at every stage of your life, home, community, school and work.

More youth being employed by implementing measures to alleviate unemployment, such as adequate education and training for specific roles by government and the private sector, more public and private sector youth programmes for work experience, encouraging entrepreneurship, and legislative reform to cut red tape for business to create a business-friendly regulatory framework, particularly for SMMEs which can employ the youth.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

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