BACKSTORY: Ilonka Badenhorst
We question Ilonka Badenhorst, managing executive at Wireless Application Service Providers Association
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Actively try to understand the other party’s motivations, wants and needs. Follow the 70/30 rule: listen 70% of the time and talk only 30% of the time.
What was your first job?
As a student I was an assistant at the university disciplinary committee and worked for a senior advocate part-time.
How much was your first pay cheque and how did you spend it?
R6,150 as a legal clerk. It probably barely covered rent, food and petrol but I saved so I could upgrade my wardrobe. I believe you always have to dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I represented SA in athletics and karate, and still avidly support and follow both.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Figure out what your passions and skills are, and create a career around that. We often chase salaries, titles and prestige but don’t cultivate our passions and talents as foundations of our profession.
If you could fix one thing in SA, what would it be?
To see realistic and tangible action taken against corruption, so that our tax money is used for the purposes for which it is intended.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
You are a direct reflection of the people with whom you spend the most time. Keep your circle small and allow into your personal space only the people who support, motivate and inspire you and add to your growth and wellbeing.
What is the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
Thinking that a new car was an investment.
What’s the most overrated virtue?
The concept of "never giving up". I am a definite advocate for perseverance, discipline and dedication, but only to the point where you can balance that with justified reality. In some instances the best decision is to stop, or move on.
If you were Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
From a professional point of view, free internet is paramount to move our country and its citizens into the future. Education is the foundation of growth and success, and to facilitate knowledge acquisition, we need to make access to information affordable for all, as in most developed countries.
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