Being the head of many companies, and wearing many hats is hard. But for power house Pontsho Manzi, establishing a work-life balance involves re-establishing correct pace and removing clutters that leads to burnout. Pontsho speaks to LLA in this inspiring interview about her journey to entrepreneurial success.
Who is Pontsho Manzi and what makes her tick?
I am an award winning businesswoman, author, image consultant, professional speaker, training facilitator and women empowerment activist with a passion for people development, especially the youth and women. Transforming peoples’ lives towards their purpose is what drives and gives me the greatest pleasure.
You currently wear many different hats and we’re super excited to be talking about all of them. But first of all, let’s talk about how you started out in your career; what came first?
I started as an HR professional in corporate and decided to start my own business in the HR and training space in 2004. The various businesses I now run have come from organic growth and the needs of my clients.
Amazing! So first you worked in HR at Nedbank; and then went on to set up your own consultancy at 24. What made you take that decision?
The vision that I had was bigger than anything that full time employment could provide. Although I was blessed to work with wonderful managers, a greater purpose pushed me to strike out on my own.
What are some of the principles that guide your personal and professional life?
Fastidious commitment to excellence and professionalism in the delivery of services to clients that is underpinned by unquestionable integrity in all my dealings.
Are there any specific challenges that you’ve faced as a female entrepreneur and business woman, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is convincing retailers to stock your products as a smaller supplier or other bigger businesses to buy your services irrespective of the company size. To get ahead, I have knocked on many doors to get business and every open door became a word-of-mouth promoter/advertisement of our products/services offering to other clients.
You are a Women Empowerment Activist and founded FabGalz Foundation in 2009 – what are some of the key objectives of the Foundation?
My purpose is to empower women and shatter the glass ceiling in all environments where women are not recognised and given fair reward for work done. For FabGalz Foundation, the objectives are to reach out to all young women and girls in an effort to provide entrepreneurship skills, soft skills training, improve Maths and Science education, provide career guidance and promote a positive self-image through image management workshops and mentorship. The idea is to find positive role models for young women and connect these girls with successful mature women who will help them get a foot in their careers of choice.
You’ve had workshops that have helped women build their self-esteem – would you say that this is an important attribute for women to develop in life and work?
A positive self-image and knowing your worth is absolutely critical in charting anybody’s life. It is even more important for women to understand and internalise their sense of self-worth and life purpose in order to end the ‘blesser culture’ and ‘beauty-for-gain’ mentality that women are constantly bombarded with in society and media as pathways to success.
What are some of your favourite books you’ve read?
Business Adventures by John Brooks, Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson, Nice girls still don’t get the corner office by Lois P. Frankel, PHD, Thrive by Ariana Huffington, Ego is the enemy- by Ryan Holiday and the Battlefield of the mind by Joyce Meyer
In your opinion, what would you say are some of the things that hinder women from achieving their set goals in life?
The biggest challenge for women is to get recognised for their intellect and God-given talents without the pressure to use their bodies to get ahead. The road towards hard-earned success for women is a long and arduous one but it is infinitely rewarding to be able to sleep well at night knowing that your hard work paid off and no compromises of integrity were made along the way.
As the CEO of a group of companies; how do you pace yourself and ensure you don’t burn out?
Wearing many hats is daunting and each business demands constant attention. Maintaining a work-life balance is hard but frequent weekends away with loved ones and alone serve to give me the necessary time to reboot and take stock. It is during the breaks that I get to breathe, re-establish correct pace and remove the clutter that leads to burnout.
What would you say in your opinion is the future of work and entrepreneurship for African women?
It is about finding careers that allow women to work in environments that mould around their needs as nurturers of society. For women who choose to raise families, flexi time and ability to work from home is a must for employers and entrepreneurs. The ability to deliver is gender-agnostic and the world is slowly waking up to this fact.
How do you unwind and relax?
I love nature, so my ideal relaxation time is spent visiting nurseries and gardens. I love art, I visit art galleries often. I also travel at any available opportunity.
Name 3 women who inspire and motivate you?
My mom, Judy Nxasana and Michelle Obama
What is your advice to the young and growing African girl reading this?
Every young girl must know and be confident in the fact that the world needs their intellect and capabilities to leave a legacy in this world. They should know that anything that comes easily usually does not have lasting value. The young African girl reading this must know that integrity and a positive sense of self-worth always win the day. They must never compromise their bodies and souls for advancement in business or world of work.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series which focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to [email protected] and we just might feature her.