BACKSTORY: Business Leadership SA CEO Busisiwe Mavuso
We question new Business Leadership SA CEO Busisiwe Mavuso
What was your first job?
An internship at Allied Bank before it was amalgamated with other banks to form Absa. We were called candidate bank technicians and please don’t ask me what that means.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was R600. I bought a bus ticket for the month so I could commute to work and I gave the rest to my widowed mother.
What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
A quote from Denis Waitley sums it up: "It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not."
What are you reading at the moment?
Nancy D O’Reilly’s Leading Women. And a must-read for every aspiring leader in the corporate world is Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.
What is your biggest regret?
I think because my personality gravitates to that of a "pleaser", saying no and disappointing people doesn’t come naturally to me. If you want to make changes you can’t please everyone and if you do please everyone then you’re not making enough progress.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I’m quite antisocial actually and I really enjoy my own company.
How satisfied are you with how our democracy has shaped up since 1994?
From an inclusivity perspective we could’ve done better and we were well on our way until we were hit by the "lost decade". What keeps me awake at night is how our social and economic patterns haven’t changed for the majority of the citizens and how fundamentally flawed our economic structure is.
What is your biggest indulgence?
Is there such a thing as "enough money" and, if so, how much is it?
Yes, there is. As soon as you have everything you need and can afford anything you want and are still left with some, then that’s enough.
What do you see as the lowest depth of misery?
How would you set about fixing SA’s job crisis?
Because our labour market is characterised by low and no skills (as a result of our unfortunate history), I would identify labour-intensive industries and focus on stimulating these so that we can get people into jobs in large numbers. Though we are an open economy, I would argue for a more protectionist stance by our government to protect some of our industries that are forced to close down (which further deepens the unemployment crisis) due to cheap imports and dumping.