If you ever meet your career crush, this is what you should definitely ask them


I personally don't consider career crushes to be the same thing as role models, although some may disagree. While the meaning of and purpose of a role may be universally understood as someone you look up to, this is what I define a career crush to be:

Career crush: Someone in your field/s of interest or same industry you're in, whose success you admire and aspire towards.

For example, Tracee Ellis Ross and my mom are my role models, but they're not my career crushes because their respective areas of expertise are not where I see myself headed work-wise.

So I'd like to admit that when it comes career crushes, I've been around the block and I still have several.

This is mainly because I think you can learn something - no matter how small - from anyone who's been in the game longer than you have. 

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Of course, there is no cookie-cutter career journey, but having a career crush is important for the purpose of self-motivation and drive, as was also advised in a Forbes column titled, Want to be successful? Find a strong female role model that I came across a while back.

What stood out from it was this concluding remark, "I think the spirit of sharing right now among women is very, very strong. We want each other to succeed. I think that's what's really important, too."

With that said, these are the two career crushes (among at least 7) I'd like to highlight today:

Crushing on: Shiona Turini and Carol Bouwer

With regards to my fashion aspirations, Shiona Turini has set the standard for me. She's the woman behind Solange's awe-inspiring 'Cranes in the Sky' and 'Don't Touch my Hair' aesthetic as well as Bey's 'Formation' video. Shiona also boasts other noteworthy fashion campaigns, music videos, TV series wardrobes, editorials and red carpets.

And to steal a few words from the resume on her website; she recently took on the role of "Fashion Director of Cosmopolitan, the largest women’s publication in the world, as part of a repositioning of the title. Shiona previously worked with top stylist and formerVogue Paris editor-in-chief Carine Roitfeld to launch the eponymously titled CR Fashion Book, as well as in senior roles at Teen Vogue and W Magazine."

If I were to have coffee with Shiona... I would ask her how she merges multiple skills to create one masterpiece without diluting any skill or creative influences. I would also ask her how maintains success in niche, somewhat 'exclusive' markets without feeling pressure to appeal to mass interest. 

From a humanitarian point of view, I look up to Carol Bouwer for her work with UNICEF SA

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Canada’s powerful circle of philanthropist activist women known as The 25th Team brought together a group of women to explore and celebrate women’s increasingly prominent role as drivers of philanthropy. I was deeply humbled to be amongst the speakers in this moderated panel discussion which included women who administer funds well into Billions- that’s in dollars! We each spoke to our own philanthropic journey. The discussion served to both motivate and inspire those in attendance and was moderated by Jo-Anne Ryan, Vice President, Philanthropic Advisory Services at TD Wealth and Executive Director of the Private Giving Foundation. I relished the opportunity to agitate for support as we at home deal with the realities of 1 in 3 children experiencing some form of violence before reaching 18. This would be either physical, emotional or sexual abuse and the perpetrators are the people they trust the most: their family members, their neighbours, or at school: teachers/peers; - over 1 in 5 teenage girls in South Africa is pregnant, and majority of these pregnancies are the result of a rape. • UNICEF’s main intervention in South Africa is Isibindi (‘courage’ in Zulu), which is an effective model to respond to children’s needs holistically. Isibindi was designed by South Africa’s National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers, and is supported by the Department of Social Development and UNICEF. The model involves home visits by 6,700 trained child and youth care workers to support families with children at-risk. This community-based programme aims to provide safety, play and structures for close to 400,000 children and youth in 400 Safe Parks and drop-in centres.  The Isibindi model responds holistically to the needs of children, youth and families who are vulnerable and at risk of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation. #foreverychild #iwc4unicef thank you to Nigerian designer @og_styletemple for my new favourite dress ????????????????????

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I'm a strong believer of the old adage "to whom much is given, much is expected," and Carol serves as a testament to that. She's the founder and CEO of Carol Bouwer Productions and she also dabbles in fashion with her Carol Bouwer handbags.

And with so much to admire on her plate, she makes an effort to share with those in need. 

If I were to have coffee with Carol... I would ask her about balance, what keeps her grounded, and the art of rebranding. 

I then asked four other women who their career crushes are, and these are the great women they look up to:

Marisa Crous, travel writer

Crushing on: MaisonCléo’s Marie Dewet and Sarah of Better Half The Store

"I look up to those who hustle."

Locally, women like Sarah from Better Half The Store, who built her business up from a very young age, travelling from Kenya to Thailand to find unique pieces to sell in her vintage shop. She has the best eye and knows what people want. 

Internationally, I am in awe of MaisonCléo’s Marie Dewet. She started an artisan clothing brand with her mum, seamstress extraordinaire, and has built it into a globally recognised and coveted business. It’s Insta-famous and beautifully transparent. 

The brand uses only the best quality fabrics and limits its e-shop to limited orders. It’s not about quantity - quality is king for this brand. 

I own one of these items, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever wrapped around my shoulders. 

If I were to go for coffee with Marie.... I’d love to work with Marie, to absorb her definition of hustling. To understand why she is so fearless when it comes to calling out other brands who copy her, and why she thinks she keeps pushing ahead of the pack. 

Phelokazi Mbude, content producer

Crushing on: Nomakhomazi Dyosopu-Dewavrin and Angel Lenise

From a video perspective my absolute career crush is Nomakhomazi Dyosopu-Dewavrin. She is a filmmaker based in Port Elizabeth. I admire her passion for telling stories about South African women.

Her films are exemplary and world class storytelling. The career she carved out for herself is not a popular one, but it is very important, especially for South African media and history.

I have a ton of questions I would ask her.

If I were to have coffee with Nomakhomazi... I would want to know how she defeats and works around all the red tape from the powers that be and creates films that she believes in.

My other career crush is someone with a job like Angel Lenise - she has my dream job and the career track record I am working on building for myself.

If I would have a coffee with Angel... I would like to know how she defines and balances her individual professional brand as a video producer with the brand of the company she works for on a long term basis. 

READ MORE: Why Shonda Rhimes and Serena Williams deserve to be on the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women Forbes list

Noluthando Mdayi, intern writer

Crushing on: Anna Wintour

Vogue US Editor-in-chief since 1988 and artistic director at Condé Nast.

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??The Summer Of Her Discontent?? Part 1??ANNA WINTOUR, the most powerful woman in fashion, is curled behind a sleek wooden desk in her vast corner office in the new Condé Nast building, a phone tucked beneath her Louise Brooks bob, forehead buried in her hand. Behind her, the crisp September sunlight is stained blue by a twenty-story Times Square movie poster for Deep Blue Sea: a tidal wave bearing the devouring jaws of a shark, an image that fills her entire wall of windows. “Oh, that,” says the Vogue editor-in-chief, in a distracted tone, when I note the presence of this oversize predator. “I try not to notice it.” But in a world dominated by symbol and gesture, Wintour’s new view is too delicious a metaphor to ignore. These have been unsettling days indeed for Anna Wintour, the British-born editor who has ruled over the world’s preeminent (and most profitable) fashion magazine for the past eleven years. Hidden behind a pair of glued-on Chanel sunglasses, she transformed Vogue from a lackluster legend into a blockbuster that generated $149 million in ad revenues last year. A notorious workaholic with a cool, imperious manner, Wintour has as many enemies in the fashion set as admirers. “She’s the scariest woman in the whole wide world,” said one designer. “Not the kind of gal you’d want to cross.” (Author-Kevin Gray,1999??) Photo?? @mariotestino . . #annawintour #vogue #fashion

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If I were to meet Anna for coffee... I would ask her the following questions:

- What advice would you give to someone who wants to find themselves occupying the position of editor-in-chief one day?

- How have you managed to stay on top of your game for so long?

- How do you feel about being called ‘nuclear Wintour’?

- What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

- Are you contemplating retirement anytime soon?

Marilynn Manuel, intern writer

Crushing on: Khanyi Dhlomo

As a media mogul, Khanyi Dhlomo has reached so many milestones at a young age and has kept on growing as a woman.

She's been at the forefront of black women in the media industry and served as a shining example of what dedication and persistence can help you achieve. Even in the face of trouble (her company’s financial struggle) she has managed to stay graceful and optimistic.

If I were to have coffee with Khanyi... I would ask her where she gets her confidence from. I would also ask her what she does to pick herself up when she feels down and for any five tips she has for black women in the media industry.

Zanele Kumalo, editor

Crushing on: Uche Pézard

Uche is a businesswoman, entrepreneur, strategist, investor, consultant, author and CEO of Luxe Corp as well as founder of Luxury Connect Africa.

Her wardrobe makes me drool but her experience, networks and business acumen leave my jaw hanging on the floor in awe. 

What she has done to elevate African luxury while pushing digital media and innovation and running an online magazine and more is truly impressive. I heard her speak at Marie Claire's power summit a few months ago but unluckily for me, I had to leave before I could approach her.

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 30: Uche Pezard wearing

Credit: Getty Images

If I were to meet Uche for coffee...  I would ask her which she fell in love with first - fashion, business or people? And then what characteristics she looks out for when working with or hiring people, how she keeps herself energised and who her career crush is. Being a multi-hyphenate is no easy task so how does she prioritise her tasks. And which business course or school would she recommend to people who want to follow in her footsteps. How much more time do I have? How long is this coffee date?!

Who are your career crushes? Please share them here so we can do another write-up on women from other industries besides the media.

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