Updated: Apr 29
Phumza is the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Broadband Infraco by day and a proud mother of one. She serves as a member of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce, where she functions as a Chief of Innovation. Phumza is a seasoned Telecoms and ICT expert with over 15 years industry experience working in various corporations.
She is passionate about sales and the Telecoms sector and is constantly re-inventing her capabilities in various technologies as well as roles. Phumza equally shares a passion for Africa as well as the development and progress of women in the continent. She is also a speaker at key industry conferences and also a thought leader on industry related matters.
Have you always had leadership qualities and are leaders born or made?
Reflecting on my background and early childhood, I believe being a first born child in my family created some of the basic principles of leadership qualities for me. I guess, I had the natural inclination to take responsibility and accountability at an early age. For example, I have a younger brother and therefore, naturally, I have always played the role of my brother’s protector and adviser. Secondly, I was focused to the extent that I was considered to be a bit boring by my peers. I always knew where I was heading and took due care and action to get there. To me, planning, organising and being in control of what I wanted to achieve were some of the leadership foundation skills I acquired at a young age. Perhaps, this is why I believe one has to self-lead before one can lead others. That said, there was still a lot to learn in order to shape my leadership abilities and experience played a great role in who I am as a Leader today.
I do believe that both statements are true.. There are people who bear character traits that place them in good standing as leaders. There are also people who, through experience, learn to become great leaders.
Define a great leader—what are some traits you think great leaders have?
Thinking back, I now see and acknowledge that some Leaders that I defined as “Bad Leaders” in the past, taught me the greatest lessons on Leadership. I believe the type of Leadership that is best is at times suited to the season. There are leadership qualities required for a growth cycle. There are also leadership qualities required for the downward cycles. To me, a great leader projects the following:
Astute Listening capability: A Leader that can listen and precisely separate the core issues from the noise. Listening is a great skill and requires one to also separate own egos in order to get to the bottom of the matter. It is also a fundamental aspect of resolving matters and being decisive on strategies to deploy.
Wisdom: A leader that can display the quality of experience and knowledge acquired and inherently translated into good judgement. It does not have to be specific to a discipline or industry, but acquired through various experiences in life and can be applied positively to current situations and circumstances. I have found that when a leader possesses this, there is confidence in how they apply themselves. Where it is lacking, the leader tends to over-compensate it with less positive behaviours such as using power to attain respect. Fair: A leader that displays fairness wins the hearts and trust of many. Inspirational: A leaders that inspires the team and holds the team to higher standards.
I work better with Leaders that trust in my abilities and allow me space to be me.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Put yourself out there for opportunities that will stretch your abilities and skills.
Unashamedly play to your strengths and use them to your benefit. Take it upon yourself to deliberately develop the areas you identify as gaps in your profile.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Ethical behaviour will place you in good standing over the lifetime of your career.
What are, from your perspective, the biggest challenges for women in leadership roles?
As much as there are opportunities being opened for women to be represented and participate in the mainstream of the economy, workplace and society the journey continues and struggle still very much continues to be challenging with all the traps you can think of on your path. The important thing is to remain true to who you are as a Leader.
What are the three Pearls Of Wisdom from your journey and life in general that you’d like to share with our members to encourage them in their careers?
To focus on the goal and recognise that each decision takes you closer or further from your goal.
To reflect on the lessons, plenty are tendered to us everyday. What is each experience, good or bad, meant to teach me. Apply that lesson.
To build a good support system around you. Make time for family, friends and business associations. They will place you in good standing at a time where you need them the most.