Owning our story as BSG Women in Business
During National Women’s Month, BSG celebrated our strong, courageous women in business who have worked together to contribute to a better future for their families, communities, South Africa and Africa.
As the culmination of these celebrations, BSG hosted a breakfast event for BSGers and invited guests, to celebrate women in business, where we were honoured and privileged to be joined by Nonkululeko Pitje, an Executive at Discovery Health. Nonku shared how she owned her story to rise to a leadership role in one of South Africa’s largest corporates.
Nonku boasts a 14-year tenure at Discovery, during which she played several key roles, building up to her current role as Head of HealthyCompany and member of the Discovery Health Executive Committee.
A diverse panel of BSGers joined Nonku on stage at the event, sharing their insights and creating an opportunity for open and enlightening engagement throughout the event.
Addressing the audience of BSGers and women from some of South Africa’s top corporates, Nonku explained the concept of being ‘Heels-ahead’; the ability to courageously own your story as your authentic self, outlining five key learnings from her personal journey:
- Play the cards you are dealt
“Regardless of where you start, you have to run the race. Recognise that you have powerful, potent tools in your arsenal and use them.” Privilege is a complex concept, the beneficiaries of which fail to recognise the head start they have been given. Nonku illustrated this though the $100 privilege race. Asking BSGers to reflect on what their ‘cards’ are, and urging them to take ownership of their situation – to own their stories.
- It takes 10 000 hours
“If you want it, you have to work hard for it. There is no magic or good luck that makes you successful overnight. It’s called hard work.” Nonku said as she discussed how Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, inspired her to consistently hone her craft, taking every opportunity she could to do so.
- Change is the catalyst for growth
Recognising the positive transformative ability of change, Nonku explained, “Change is one of the only constants. Stop fearing it. It will move you to where you want to go next.” She encouraged BSGers to, in times of change, visualise the outcome they want. “Taking the decision about the outcome you want will move you in your intended direction.”
- People matter
“Treat people with kindness and love. Your job is about the people!” Nonku stated. People-centricity in organisations bears fruit in the form of higher people retention, happier clients and increased revenue. Nonku’s statement resonated deeply with BSG, we understand that the success of our business is rooted in happy and engaged people.
- The soil needs to be fertile
Nonku highlighted the power of an engaged workforce, “Retain people in your organisation that want to be there.” She advised BSGers to find work that energises them. Emphasising that productivity increases when you do work that resonates with you purpose and vision.
Nonku also commented on the elusive work / life balance chased by many working parents. As a mother of two, Nonku has first-hand experience of how to navigate the landscape for women in business. “Recognise that there is no such thing as balance. Balance is a journey and you can’t do everything.” She went on to explain the importance of understanding what you have control over and prioritising those things.
BSG is on a journey to own its inclusive story by creating humanness and equality in its leadership. “We are working hard to create inclusive opportunities for all BSGers. We are committed to ensuring a workplace representative of South Africa, as a country, and one that creates equal opportunities for everyone, which includes having leadership role models for all.” BSG CEO, Jurie Schoeman, stated as he reflected on the meaning of owning our story as an organisation.
Nonku brought a unique perspective and courageously shared her personal journey, allowing BSGers to learn and grow through her experiences. She is a role model for women in business, especially those in STEM careers, blazing a path for those who look to follow. Thank you to Nonku Pitje and the BSG panel members for creating a truly enlightening experience.