“Build friendships. Your greatest gift is making friends and building relationships. Build multinational friendships,” said Keamogetse “Moula” Mokhobo Amegashie. She was delivering the Distinguished Guest Speaker talk at the African Leadership Academy, the first held in our renovated auditorium.
“In my experience, your friends become your business partners. Whatever you do with your life, your networks for life are right here in this room,” she said.
Collaboration breeds success, isolation leads to failure
Mokhobo-Amegashie lamented the insularity and isolationism of South African society, which has led to recurring incidents of xenophobic violence. “The insularity and isolationism of South Africa has handicapped us. It’s one of my deepest pains when I travel on the continent: as South Africans we assume we can build and succeed alone,” she said.
“When I saw all the different flags hanging in the dining hall, I thought to myself, this is how it should be,” she said, remarking on the display of the flags of 53 African countries hanging from the ceiling of the on-campus dining hall.
“What I love about Africa is the can-do attitude and the resilience to keep trying. The world sees us as failures, but I have pride in my community, in our humility and happiness. We are too accepting, to our detriment. But that’s not something to give up. Despite our problems, I would never choose not to be African, because of our optimism to keep trying,” she said.
What failure teaches you
Her life experiences of being taught by teachers from India, Scotland, and Uganda in a school in the former homeland of Bophuthatswana, to studying in Canada at age 17 as an exchange student broadened her horizons from an early age. “I knew from then I wouldn’t only be in Africa, but I am a very proud African,” she said.
Her initial attempts at studying law were a “dismal failure” – due to the requirement at the time to pass Latin. She then studied social sciences at the University of Cape Town. She then worked for Accenture as a management consultant, before transitioning to Deloitte, where her boss taught her: fail as many times as possible, as that’s how you learn.
“I encourage young people to consider management consulting after university, as it teaches resilience, how to learn and implement solutions fast, and the fundamentals of business,” she said.
She has 12 years in executive search at the multinational Spence Stuart, eventually leaving as he Partner responsible for the sub-Saharan business. Her experiences there taught her that for Africans to truly succeed in Africa, they needed to be in charge of building their own careers.
In 2016, she founded and is managing partner of Drayton Glendower, an African executive search company with offices in South Africa, Ghana, and the European Union.
Mokhobo-Amegashie’s previous roles have included serving two terms as a member of Council for the University of Johannesburg, as a member of the finance sub-committee, and also the remuneration committee of the board of governance for St. Stithian’s College. She has also been the Co-Chairman of Women Corporate Directors (South African Chapter).