‘Winners are born in the midst of a crisis’ – top economic advisor Yamkela Makupula

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South African businesswoman Yamkela Makupula is the CEO of Diaz Reus Africa.
South African businesswoman Yamkela Makupula is the CEO of Diaz Reus Africa.

She’s young, she’s dynamic, and she’s going places many of us don’t even dream of.

The youngest ever partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers and now CEO of Diaz Reus Africa, Yamkela Makupula is pure business gold.

The 30-something economic advisor has just recently added another string to her bow, as she was appointed by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to join the ministerial advisory committee dealing with the country’s response to Covid-19.

She’s on the up and up and she takes no nonsense when it comes to other people’s reactions.

“I am a 30-something-year-old CEO. I keep my age to myself because of the stigma that if you are under the age of 40 and a black woman leading in an international firm, then you don’t know what you are doing in the boardroom. My age is not a factor – what’s important is my ability to turn everything I touch into gold,” Yamkela tells Drum.

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Yamkela says young professionals should not be dismayed by the current state of the world.

“Winners are born in the midst of a crisis. For you to achieve your goals, you need to have the grit to keep pushing beyond the current circumstances.

“It’s not easy, actually it’s hard. But one day when you have achieved all that you aspired knowing that in the midst of the pandemic you did not give up, you will look back with so much pride. Keep moving,” she says.

Individuals need to dig deep and find certain traits to help them succeed. They must possess self-discipline, determination, and the ability to identify opportunities in the midst of challenges. These are keys to success, Yamkela says.

She motivates professionals to keep moving forward.

“Start that business you’ve been dreaming about for years. Research ways of getting government support and funding in your area – but the most important thing is for you to start.

“Take a leap of faith. Ask for the promotion you deserve in the middle of the pandemic. They might not give it to you now but next year, you will be number one on their list.

“So, kick those doors and you’ll realise most of them were never really locked – they were just closed on account of weather,” she says. 

“So, kick those doors and you’ll realise most of them were never really locked – they were just closed on account of weather.”
Yamkela Makupula

Dropping her pearls of wisdom, Makupula shares her top three traits for success.

Be driven by the will to succeed in everything that you do.

“I don’t recall giving up on anything I’ve ever aspired to achieve. Like everyone else, I’ve met failure time and time but I have always believed that failure is success turned outside down.

“It’s the way of the universe saying, ‘I have something better in store for you, so continue pushing’.”

Take accountability for every action and reaction that you give and receive in your life.

“I truly believe in the power of the law of attraction. As a result, that has made me believe in my own power and abilities to achieve everything I want in my lifetime.”

Think beyond the current circumstances.

The world is going through Covid-19 and global economic meltdown.

“My mind is no longer there. It’s on the solutions. I am actively working with different African governments to get our people vaccinated so we can move on from this pandemic. I am working on post-Covid economic strategies for Africa so we can have swift recovery. That’s how I am, both in my work and personal life.”

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