“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

Thembisa Vanesa Luthuli


Financial Services

Organisation / Company



Thembisa Vanesa Luthuli, 34, is an instructional designer at Sanlam. Her responsibilities include developing and running training courses to meet identified needs and to monitor results so that future courses may be modified. Thembisa assists in the assessment of external courses to determine suitability and keeps abreast of latest developments in the training field. She also does research based on the training development brief. Being the youngest and first black woman to start a financial planning practice in one of the biggest financial institutions is an achievement that Thembisa is proud of. Part of the challenge was to service the black market in a white-dominated company. Her other great achievement was writing a book called Healing Financial Trauma: Gateway to Wealth. Thembisa says she overcame difficulties such as gender and racial bias by demonstrating her expertise, seeking mentorship and being part of a supportive network. She says she draws motivation from the people who have trust in her capabilities, adding that “we grow from learning from those who are ahead of us”. Thembisa has a personal project and it is to develop a financial wellness programme for use by employers in South Africa.


Master of Commerce in Accounting, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Post Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning, University of the Free State
National Diploma in Financial Coaching, University of the Free State
Bcom Economics, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Bcom Honours in Marketing Management, University of KwaZulu-Natal
National Certificate in Wealth Management, Inseta
Instructional Design, University of Cape Town
Management Advancement Programme, Wits Business School


My greatest achievement was including black people in the financial system they had been excluded from. Building that practice allowed me an opportunity to provide financial education in broader spaces and access more people that are underserved when it comes to financial planning and financial literacy.
The second biggest achievement was writing and self-publishing my first book called Healing Financial Trauma-Gateway to Wealth. This, for me, is for generations to come; my people will always have a reference of simplified financial planning principles that they can always use to better their financial positions.


There is one female leader in finance who inspired me to overcome gender barriers, motivating me to overlook and discouragement and disappointments. She is a diversity and inclusion advocate who offered networking and development opportunities, supporting my growth. Another female leader was my educational mentors from my academic background, who helped me build my foundational knowledge, as well as analytical and leadership skills.