BACKSTORY: Absa’s Tshiwela Mhlantla
We question Tshiwela Mhlantla, managing executive of physical channels at Absa
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Listen carefully, do your own research and do not feel pressured to make a decision in haste.
What was your first job?
My first formal job after studying was as an estate and trust administrator. This experience created context for me in financial planning after seeing insolvent estates and some very fortunate people receiving inheritances.
How satisfied are you with how our democracy has shaped up since 1994?
We cannot expect to change the injustices of over 400 years in just 20-plus years — it is a journey. We have to work at it as South Africans and own the shaping of our future as a collective.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
"Balance" is difficult to achieve but always strive to give 100%. Presence and focus in whatever you are busy with is the key to deriving value.
What’s the one book everyone should read?
Winnie Mandela: A Life, by Anné Mariè du Preez Bezdrob.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world
A walk through the Louvre.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was R3,500. I had so many responsibilities — I am sure it went into necessities, that there was no room to spend on luxuries.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I am an avid cook.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
When people forget who they are, how valuable they are, and where they come from. Never forget your identity and who helped shape your life.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I have recently invested in property and should have done so earlier.
Which living person do you most admire?
My mother. She is strong, intelligent and wise. She was born before her time. She makes sense of things that do not make sense.
On what occasion do you lie?
Once you start lying you must continue on that trajectory — it is too stressful.
What is your most treasured possession?
My family — I believe they are the greatest gift.
How would you fix SA’s job crisis?
Include entrepreneurial training in the school curriculum so that we can create jobs and not just depend on formal employment. Encourage small business to grow through funding, training and support.