Nana Magomola: Leading the pack

2013-08-21 13:52

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As the new head of the National Responsible Gambling Foundation, gender activist Nana Magomola has instituted two leadership programmes to be run this month.

Founded in 2000, the National Responsible Gambling Programme (NRGP) – the only one of its kind in Africa – has decreased local problem gambling rates.

With her background in health, government administration and the private sector, Nana Magomola is well placed to run the NRGP.

A gender activist and qualified lawyer, she was also recently voted chair of the International Women’s Forum President’s Council, a US-based group involving 5 000 women leaders in 26 countries whose vision is to empower and nurture the next generation.

After establishing the International Women’s Forum in South Africa with colleagues, Nana successfully launched its strategic leadership programme to groom young women in senior management positions. In partnership with the Gordon Institute of Business Science, the project has produced more than 180 women graduates so far.

What are the main corporate challenges women face today?

Gender discrimination and stereotyping, dual career-family pressures and lack of equal opportunities in certain industries.

What are the most important lessons women learn on your leadership programmes?

Women have life skills and natural abilities that are useful in business: networking, negotiating, multitasking, delegating, budgeting. We teach women to create strong networks, establish office alliances, manage their reputations, master the politics of business, understand the power of the internet and learn new ways to balance life and work.

What still gives you a thrill as a gender activist?

Seeing what South African women have achieved compared to other women, including in the developed world. We still have a long way to go, but we can celebrate ourselves.

What do you regard as the most valuable aspects of your six years spent in the States?

The academic education I received (BSc degree) and the lessons I learned – to be assertive and outspoken, and understand that as a black person and a woman I have equal rights. Race and gender should not define me in terms of my career and aspirations.

What strategies helped you move into South Africa’s white corporate world in the 80s?

I was educationally equipped and understood that to be respected I had to work hard and put in as much time as required, or more. The quality of my work had to be above average. Being on time, all the time, was important.

In a nutshell, I presented myself as a professional and was given respect.

Things i’ve learned the hard way not to do

1. Trusting people too much and assuming everyone has my best interests at heart.

2. Delaying doing things I have a passion for to make space for other people’s expectations of me.

3. Lending people more money than I can afford to.

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