2 Hours with the Rock Star of Public Speaking, Vusi Thembekwayo - CEO, MyGrowthFund
The Future CFO Magazine cover page man, Vusi Thembekwayo was hosted by the Managing Editor, Valentine Nti, to share his insights with readers on how to prepare for Future CFO or executive leadership, The CFO Case Study Competition as well as the state of Education in South Africa and the continent.
Thank you for making time for us Vusi. It's been a battle for the last 4 months to set up a date for this interview as well as to get you into the international panel of judges for The CFO Case Study Competition 2016. It turns out you are away in Asia and Europe that period. Can we firm your diary right now for the 2017 Case Study Competition?
Coincidentally, I have just come back from a tour in Europe and it is very interesting that they still hold misinformed views of our continent. The title of my latest tour is 'Africa has the solutions,' so to answer your question, anything that helps us showcase we have the intellect and ability to build our continent, I am very keen to be a part of. So count me in for the 2017 and subsequent editions!
You are a self-made millionaire at only 32 and a successful entrepreneur helping grow more entrepreneurs across Africa through your boutique venture capitalist firm, MyGrowthFund. What is your advice for some of our readers who may be young entrepreneurs trying to set up their own business?
Part of the problem we have in Africa, and it's certainly very big in South Africa, but you know, I was in DRC Congo in July and I spoke at the University of Ghana three months ago and it was the same; which is this, young people think that money is the purpose of business. A business leader of the future understands that business is an instrument to do good. Good business is good business. If you do good by a community, you will make money.
So I would say focus on the problem your business needs to solve for the community or customers and do so passionately. In other words, love what you do and do what you love.
“The chartered designation comes with an independent stamp of approval”
How about a word of advice to our readers who may be studying and aspiring to CFO, C-suite or other executive leadership role?
Education is very powerful only when it has a context. Say I study Management Accounting and get an 83% distinction, so what if you cannot apply it within a community or organisational construct to solve real world problems? The problem in Africa is that we have dumped these huge libraries of theoretical knowledge into young people and then overnight we expect them to go into industry and apply it. Young people need to get the context right. How? Volunteer your theoretical knowledge on community or church projects. If your friend is trying to start a business, make yourself available or take up even unpaid internship to practice how to apply your knowledge.
A distinction is often made between talent and skill? HR experts say you are born with talent but skill is learned. How will you explain your phenomenal success as a global top 12 speaker?
That's a fantastic question! In fact, I wrote a piece on it, 'The fallacy of talent.' There is a point in competition where talent is not enough. If you really want to reach the top, say A Future CFO, your talent on reading an income statement and extrapolating data on a balance sheet will not differentiate you in the board room. All your peers have got it so you reach what is known as parity. What differentiates you then is the skill. That's about expertise built consistently over time.
So, was I fortunate from a talent perspective? Sure! But when I speak to an audience, as I will be in a fortnight’s time in Okinawa; then in Kuala Lumpur; and as I did the day before in Abu Dhabi, and the day before that in Rome and then day before that in Boston, talent is not an issue. I am on a programme with 15 other equally talented speakers. The reason I will get a standing ovation, get re-invited and get a global rating and they don't, is because I apply myself to hundreds of hours consistently in research, data,
“So if you want to become a business leader of the future, you need to broaden your mind around all disciplines; Strategy, Operations, HR, Marketing and all the soft sides because if you don’t, you will either not ascend to the top or if you do, you will not be fit for purpose.”…
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