June 30th 2020

Leadership in turbulent times.

MCI Livetalk with Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, Entrepreneur, Investor, Corporate Leader, South Africa


Sindi Mabaso-Koyana (re.) im Gespräch mit MCI-Rektor Andreas Altmann. Foto:MCI
Sindi Mabaso-Koyana (re.) im Gespräch mit MCI-Rektor Andreas Altmann. Foto:MCI

Only leadership can cope with the current global crisis, triggered by the Covid pandemic, postulated South African Sindi Maboso-Koyana during a live talk at MCI. Sindi Maboso-Koyana is an entrepreneur, investor, corporate leader and champion in growth and development of young women. She is also one of South Africa's most influential personalities in regards to the transformation process since the abolition of apartheid.

Growing up in the apartheid era, an extremely difficult and challenging environment for the black population, she tells of her strong mother: "I was blessed with my mother, who taught me discipline and amazing values: hard work, fairness, respect, modesty, doing the right things even when nobody was looking”. Today, she would probably call those values leadership and integrity. Sindi Maboso-Koyana was motivated to overcome the obstacles she came across in her country by using her skills and knowledge for the people in her community. Sindi Maboso-Koyana got prominent through the founding of the African Women Chartered Accountants (AWCA) Investment Holding Company, a significant investment company. Although when she founded the company, her initial idea was to create a network to support women. This concept is typical for Sindi Maboso-Koyana as she always puts the thought of building communities first.

For Sindi Maboso-Koyana the current Covid pandemic is acting as a leveler for humanity. The virus takes no account of skin colors or origin and could help eliminate the massive inequalities South Africa is facing on a daily basis.

She is proud of the resilience of her country. On March 5, 2020, a skiing tourist who had just returned from Italy was the first Covid-positive patient tested in South Africa. With a population of just under 60 million, South Africa has 144,000 infected people with only 1.75 percent fatalities. The world had actually expected an apocalyptic impact in Africa, but in reality, it was clear that the country was making good progress through the health crisis. Perhaps earlier experiences with health crises and epidemics such as Ebola, AIDS or tuberculosis have helped. Sindi praised the current South African head of government for his outstanding leadership: "The president had a very difficult decision to make. He led the country into lockdown and was very communicative, very present, very determined." It is also important to know that the country was in recession even before Covid. The unemployment rate was about 30 percent. "Economically speaking, Covid hit South Africa literally like a nail in the coffin." One would have to imagine a lockdown with so many homeless and unemployed people. It was a massive challenge to provide for those people during this time. All political groups had stuck together and actually prioritized humans. It was not just a matter of overcoming the crisis, but of emerging from it stronger.

The economy in South Africa is just starting up again. Although many smaller companies are fighting for survival as they slipped into the crisis without financial resources and with weak balance sheets. As an AWCA investor, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana is impressed how readily entrepreneurs are willing to make sacrifices. This fact reassures her credo “Walk the talk” and how important it is to demonstrate strong leadership.  The term "shareholder value" takes on a new meaning in these times, namely sharing common values instead of distributing money to shareholders.

Far more than the impact of the Corona crisis, Sindi Maboso-Koyana is stunned by the current racist attacks, especially in the USA. "How can people commit such acts in these times? It tears my heart apart," she describes her emotions. She quotes Nelson Mandela who made great sacrifices for his believes: "Mandela wanted us all to live together respectfully. We still have a lot to do to raise our children, whether they are black or white - to show them how to stay calm even when they're angry."

Especially now leadership is extremely important, she says, picking up on her initial statement: "That means inspiring people, to be very clear in your goals, and even when life turns against you, to stand up again, to give people meaning”. She does not want to define a formula for success, but declares that in any given case it is a matter of modesty and excellence. In the end, those characteristics always speak for themselves. In addition, communication is an important factor to stay in touch with people to give them hope.

Mag. Bettina Stichauner | Head Alumni Center Alumni & Friends
Mag. Bettina Stichauner Head Alumni Center +43 512 2070 - 1700
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