Thandeka Nombanjinji-Nzama is the CEO of Nombanjinji Family Property, a commercial property and property development company with portfolios in the office space, retail space and residential rental apartment sectors. She is also the MD of Mbokodo Building, a CIDB grading 7 general building and civil engineering entity which focuses on female empowerment within the built industry. We aim to minimize the gender gaps and ensure that females form part of an equitable and inclusive part of the construction sector.
Thandeka is passionate about empowering women and the youth and is an advocate for generational wealth creation for women. Mrs Nombanjinji-Nzama believes that “Making a difference should not only mean vocalizing an issue over and over again without any action; but being able to stand up fearlessly and doing something about it”
Have you always had leadership qualities, and in your opinion are leaders born or made?
Leadership qualities were instilled in me at a very young age as I grew up in an entrepreneurial family where both my parents were business owners. During weekends and school holidays we didn’t have a typical childhood of being able to play with other kids but were expected to go work at the family businesses; that is where I learnt how to lead, learnt lessons about the value of money and customer service.
I believe that leaders are made as I am a typical example of that. I had to learn how to become a leader by ongoing learning, training, mentorship and a lot of perseverance.
Define a great leader—what are some of the traits you think great leaders possess?
High on my list is someone that leads with integrity and purpose. Someone with a teachable spirit and always willing to learn. One that is about human capital and that is not about self-enrichment. One that is about promoting growth in others by lifting as they rise.
Are there any strategies you can recommend that can help women achieve more prominent roles in their organizations?
I believe in opening up and creating opportunities for transformation within your immediate space and that’s exactly what we do at Mbokodo Building as we unapologetically prioritize employing and procuring our goods & services from females, provide skills development programs to assist in broadening their skills and harnessing those skills by providing work opportunities in their respective fields.
How do you think women can influence issues of gender parity in the workplace, e.g. gender pay gap, equal opportunities etc.
I believe that the only way to address any patriarchal issues and to bring about any change is to tirelessly vocalize concerns without cowering. We need to fearlessly use our voices as tools of transformation.
What are, from your perspective, the biggest challenges for women in leadership roles?
Definitely the issue of patriarchy. Women are still unfortunately not taken seriously nor believed to be able to deliver. We still unfortunately have to prove ourselves 10 times more than our male counterparts and that is the core reason that I decided that I will create something that will not only be a tool of empowerment for women but it will also be unapologetically fully inclusive for women and we will ensure that we normalize having women in roles that are misconceived to be only for males.
What are the 3 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?
· Not every door that is closed is necessarily a negative thing or equals to a NO but sometimes that closed door is meant to stay that way in order to be re-directed to divine greatness that God has in store for you.
· Always lead with purpose.
· Be the change that you want to see in the world.