Motivating and inspiring your mentee may seem like the obvious first step, but it’s your time and attention that will most benefit your mentee. Pledging your time to listen and provide honest feedback is the real game changer. Meeting you and learning from you is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for your mentee, so please do treat it as such. Mutual respect is a sound basis for your mentorship journey. If you are willing to be present, and to share your experiences and the lessons you’ve learned, then you have what it takes to guide your mentee on the path to success.
Behind every great mentor is a great story waiting to be told. We’ve shared some of them here. For the fast facts and essential elements that led to the leadership successes of these supernovas, be sure to check in frequently on our featured mentors.
With a career that captures every major milestone in South Africa from the 1980s onward, PJ ‘Thandeka’ Powers is a local legend whose distinctive voice has been the backing track to our lives for over three decades. Songs like ‘Jabulani’ and the anthemic ‘World in Union’ are woven into our collective memory. She’s always been a powerful presence on stage, fearlessly owning the space, and she’s played alongside such local and global legends as Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, Youssou N’Dour, Miriam Makeba, Joan Armatrading, Annie Lennox and Peter Gabriel. She’s serenaded Madiba and performed for Queen Elizabeth II. And she’s battled alcoholism and addiction, and come back even stronger. She’s now a change-motivator, activist and philanthropist.
Long-limbed and lovely she may be, but Liezel van der Westhuizen is also a formidable leader who’s bagged more awards for best businesswoman on the continent than can possibly be listed. From on-air on radio to the runway and red carpet, from the front covers of fashion magazines, to finding herself the first African to cycle tandem across the Himalayas with a blind athlete, she approaches everything she does with an almost electrifying energy and enthusiasm – and it’s contagious. She’s now a sought-after international speaker, global emcee and personal brand coach, who owns the moniker ‘giraffe’ with pride. Used by designer Craig Jones to lament her 1.8m legginess, she’s appropriated this quirky appellation and made it her signature brand.
There are certain people who have legendary powers of endurance, self-mastery and self-belief. Joey Evans had that in spades, long before his spine was crushed in a biking accident in 2007 and he was told he had a 10% chance of ever walking again. Since then this off-road supernova has gone on to scale new heights without a shred of self-pity, but with an abundance of guts and good humour. When he’s not conquering the next big challenge – the Dakar or the Roof of Africa rallies – you’ll find him on the book tour with his award-winning bio, From Para to Dakar, delivering inspiring messages as a keynote speaker, or chilling with his wife and four daughters. His mantra? “Gratitude is a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it becomes.”
Ian Fuhr is a self-confessed speculator in surprising start-ups. From a downtown convenience store to a record company, from a race relations consultancy to a much-loved salon chain, the man behind Sorbet is fearless in the face of new ventures. He believes that it takes fresh eyes to build a business. Fuhr by name, first by nature, he was one of the first business leaders to appoint a black manager, and he’ll call out racism, sexism and any other ‘-ism’ wherever he finds it. He’s authored two bestsellers, where he argues that service always comes before self-interest. He radiates humility and chutzpah in equal doses, and has the soul of a true servant-leader. He’s since left Sorbet and is now venturing into the role of global life coach.
From Rag committee to radio station DJ to recipient of Rotary International’s highest honour; from MTN’s man-in-a-box to movie marathons; from that infamous naked streak, to shark cage diving, from box cart racing to the ‘Bury Me in Books’ campaign; from the Little Champs Sports Academy to interviews with the late Heath Ledger, Ron Perlman and Selma Hayek – if Kevin Fine hasn’t done it, then it hasn’t been done before. He’s now the CEO of Jacaranda 94.2, voted Commercial Radio Station of the Year under his leadership. Kevin gives wholeheartedly to everything he does, but, more than that, he’s big on giving back, and believes in the shared value economy. He loves the immediacy of radio, and sees it as the perfect platform to change lives.
Working the room is child’s play for caustic, clever comedian John Vlismas. The Zimbabwe-born serial offender first caught the comic bug when he met Pieter Dirk-Uys, whose sage advice to the fledgling jester – ‘Plant some spikes amongst the fluff’ – was later adopted as John’s modus operand; in his own words: ‘Without danger, comedy is rubbish’. Mad, bad and dangerous to know he may be, but he’s since turned the lessons he’s learnt from a lifetime in stand-up to corporate ends, showing the men in suits how to strut their stuff. But seriously, John was awarded an MBA scholarship from Henley Business School in 2017, and between gigs, parenting and offending the faint-hearted, he runs Whacked Management and is co-owner of Virus Communications.
In the PR world, she’s affectionately known as the pit bull in heels. She’s the founder and director of African Star Communications (ASC), which she started in 2008 with just R1 000 in her pocket, living out of the backseat of her car – with a toddler in tow. Farah has had her fair share of misfortune, but nothing can hold back this human hurricane who refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer. And that’s why her client base reads like a local and global ‘who’s who’. She’s garnered countless awards for her fearlessness and for her role in female empowerment. She’s worked with everyone from Manchester United FC to Miss World to Mo-G. And she’s raised her daughter to see limits as opportunities. Fortune, it seems, does favour the bold and the brave.
From medical doctor to MBA graduate, from healer to human capital developer, Dr Roze Phillips has been making waves wherever she goes. Prior to taking up her post as ABSA Group Executive for People and Culture, she served Accenture for over 20 years in various critical management positions. Along the way, she’s found time to serve as executive sponsor of Born to Succeed Women, an organisation which empowers and upskills unemployed women, and as non-executive director for property investment company Spear. She’s a lifelong learner and, since obtaining a diploma in future studies, she’s squarely focused on helping SA navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Her message? “Embrace learning, because that’s how you’re going to be change-strong.”
Greg Solomon is CEO of McDonald’s SA, but he cut his teeth in construction as a project manager in the ‘90s, using his civil engineering degree to literally build the brand across SA. This, however, was just a ‘drive-thru’ on his journey to MD, where sales, customer service and guest count for the Golden Arches grew dramatically on his watch. Greg believes that to lead you must first be followed, and he’s visionary, charismatic and determined enough to inspire a multitude of followers. He’s helped move the brand from ‘fast food to good food served fast’, and McDonald’s SA has repeatedly won the Deloitte Best Company To Work For award. When he’s not winning leadership awards, you’ll find him kicking back in the Kruger Park with his family.
From Umlazi township to Houston, Texas, where he served as senior auditor for Deliotte, Andile Khumalo’s life reads like movie script. He’s squeezed more into his 40-odd years than most people have in a lifetime: He’s a CA, serial entrepreneur, and CEO of The Brodkast Group, an investor in tech, media and telecoms. He’s tried his hand as MD of POWER 98.7, was former COO of MSG Afrika, and launched I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR in 2013, an online summit that supports and skills up local entrepreneurs. Despite his many achievements, this father of two is astoundingly humble. He ascribes his success to his work teams, his beautiful wife Mandisa, whom he’s besotted with – and his powerhouse of a mom, Pinky, whom he admits he’s terrified to disappoint.