Black Stories (Exclusive on National Times): As parts of Africa glow from a dark century of conflict and exploitation into decades of brim economic growth and empowerment, very few people have contributed to this change as much as this ambitious, beautiful and charismatic woman, Phuti Mahanyele, also known as Phuti Malabie. Born in Soweto, South Africa in 1971, Mahanyele went to one of South Africa’s best schools, which she will later acknowledge was due to her parents’ devotion to education and girl development. She later gained a BA in economics and an MBA from the US and UK.
In 1991, Mahanyele was hired by Fieldstone Private Capital Group, where due to her dynamism and superb work ethics, she was later made the vice-president. The firm then transferred her to head their South African branch. Full of black empowerment ideas, she left Fieldstone to join Southern Africa Development Bank . In 2004, Cyril Ramaphosa, the founder and chairman of Shanduka group, invited Mahanyele to join Shanduka. Cyril Ramaphosa, the current South African president, founded Shanduka group in 2001 as black-owned investment holding company. Mahanyele became the Managing Director of the Shanduka in 2008, and then CEO in 2010.
Reflecting on rocket rise, and numerous achievements, at Shanduka group, she told Forbes Magazine’s journalist, Farai Gundai, that “My most proud moments are numerous but these three stand-out for me; 1. Chinese investment corporation’s first direct investment in South Africa was the acquisition of 25% equity in the Shanduka Group; 2. Shanduka’s acquisition of McDonald’s South Africa solidified the Group’s objective of developing a geographically diverse, black-owned, food and beverage company on the continent and; 3. A joint venture with Aggreko [which] increased Shanduka’s capabilities in the temporary power sector – making us one of the private power suppliers to Eskom”.
Mahanyele stepped down as CEO of Shanduka Group in 2014 after seeing a major rise in the company’s wealth from less than $100 million in 2010 to over $680 million when she left. While at the helm of the company, Mahanyele helped diversified the company’s interest into telecoms, food and beverage, property, financial services, energy, and industrial sectors. Known for her hard work and charisma, she also helped her company won one of Coca Coca’s four bottler franchise in South Africa. She said the death of her mother at 42 made her know time is precious and don’t like when people waste her time.
Notwithstanding her achievements, sooner before she knew it, her astounding effort to build Shanduka group, a black empowerment firm, soon took a toll on her health. She suffered a stroke in 2013. “It [the stroke] taught me how things can suddenly change. Out of nowhere, in no time, I had gone from being this person who was capable of doing so much to suddenly being completely incapable” she told Destiny Magazine. But in additional to her personal health problem, losing colleagues also created some moments of despair for the gifted CEO. “My lowest and saddest moment was the loss of my colleagues Nandkishor Moharir and Marcus Fourie. Shanduka is such a close knit family – their loss had a great impact on the team and they will remain forever missed”.
Phuti Mahanyele left Shanduka to start her own company and a family. But even before she left, she was already one of the greatest young African CEO achiever. A trailblazer in a predominately male dominated industry, she has been recognized throughout her career and received several accolades; including ‘Forbes Africa 2014 Business Woman of the Year’. In 2011, she was named as one of FORBES’ ‘20 Youngest Power Women in Africa’; in 2008 the Wall Street Journal named her as one of the ‘Top 50 Women in the World to Watch’ and in 2007 she was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Young Leader.
What separates Mahanyele from other CEOs is her relentlessness effort to inspire other young Africans. She told Forbes that “My concern remains the empowerment and development of our people –especially our youth and women. We have so many opportunities for growth and I fear that we are not transferring our knowledge and providing the necessary skills in order for our people to take advantage of these opportunities”.
Talking about what she will be remembered for at Shanduka, the beauty and brains said “At Shanduka, I want to be remembered as chief executive who got the most out of the people by making them realise their potential. My overall legacy – will be the people I leave behind. How empowered and successful they are. I believe in investing in people and would want to be measured by the extent to which I invested in them and their success”.
Phuti Malabie is currently the Executive Chairperson of Sigma Capital an investment holding company.A company she founded after leaving Shanduka, and one of Africa’s fastest rising investment firms.
Follow our Black Stories Program, published every Tuesday on National Times News. You can read last week’s story here.
Don’t forget to like our page. You can recommend any person you will like to learn more about or someone you will like our readers to hear their story.