Boitumelo Tlala: I knew failing was never an option

Boitumelo Tlala
Boitumelo Tlala: There is time for fun but fun is sweeter when you focus on education first. Click To Tweet

Boitumelo ‘Tumi” Tlala is a corporate social investment professional who is passionate about the development of disadvantaged communities. 

She is a graduate of the University of Johannesburg and is currently completing a Btech degree in Public Relations Management. She plans to complete her Masters Degree specialising in Corporate Social Responsibility.

Growing up in one of the toughest neighbourhoods in South Africa, Tumi was able to overcome the temptations and challenges which surrounded her. She didn’t relent on achieving her dreams and continues to soar to greater heights.

 Tumi intends to ultimately head a multinational foundation with the aim of investing in Africa, to empower women and youth, for a sustainable future.

You grew up in a rough environment with so many negative distractions, how were you able to stay focused on your goals without relenting?

I grew up in Diepsloot, an informal settlement north of Johannesburg.  Alcohol consumption, rape and crime, in general, were the norm, and still are. Yet there was hope, my parents strived to take me to good multiracial schools.

I was able to stay focused by studying hard, usually, midnight to mornings as there were taverns around my home with music blasting through the night. I surrounded myself with school friends, most stayed in affluent suburbs, which helped me to escape. Finally, I watched shows like the Oprah Winfrey Show, back then it encouraged me that women can succeed despite their circumstances.

What was the toughest period of your life so far?

The toughest period of my life was when I lost my father in October 2003, the year when I was in matric. Being a daddy’s girl he was a great support. To make matters worse, I was to start university the following year and I wasn’t sure who would be paying my fees.

As a result I needed to find work immediately after completing my exams, which I did at a mall close to my school. By God’s grace, a wealthy businessman who was a friend to my friend’s father sponsored my two years of tertiary. Luckily by the third year, my father’s pension and provident funds came through. Throughout, I knew failing was never an option.

If you were to address a group of teenagers, what advice would you give them?

If I were to address a group of teenagers, I would first of all tell them there is time for fun but fun is sweeter when you focus on education first. There are many opportunities out there but you need to focus, work hard and smart, have self-respect and also respect your parents.

There are many opportunities out there but you need to focus, work hard and smart, have self-respect and also respect your parents.

Tell us two of your best and worst skills.

Best skill is my ability to network, to form partnerships and relationships, a great skill that I am using in my career as a corporate social investment practitioner currently.

My worst skill is my intolerance for the mediocre. I see time as my most important asset and people or situations that tend to take time and yield little, I cannot tolerate. As a result, I surround myself with people I can learn from and whom I can also be an asset to.

Who is your role model and why?

I do not have a specific role model, but there are many attributes that I admire in a number of women and men, who are trailblazers of their own destinies.

I have come to love She Leads Africa as daily there are amazing women and men whom I learn from and follow at times.

Boitumelo Tlala: I love SLA because I get to learn from so many amazing women and men Click To Tweet

What are some of the things you want to achieve before turning 40?

Before the age 40, I would like to make giant leaps in my career and business. In my career, I would like to be a head of a foundation for a multinational organisation. I believe strategic corporate social investment can be a solution to some of Africa’s challenges.

Investing in economic development by supporting small businesses, especially female led ones, investing in education for the African child and tackling the scourge of HIV/Aids for the betterment of our future, are my top priorities. With that said, I am planning on pursuing my Masters specializing in Corporate Social Responsibility.

On the business front, I have started a property development company where I plan to provide affordable accommodation for our people.

If you were to live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

I would live in South Africa, it’s a wonderful country and I grew up here, my roots and past are here. I believe Africa has a lot of potentials to grow. Most importantly we have ubuntu, where we respect and care about each other regardless.

Having to live in the post-Apartheid South Africa, the thought of someone making me feel I need to be anything rather than me or feel that I should not be in a specific place due to my skin, for me is the worst violation of humanity.

I would like to have a home in the UK and USA though…if I can achieve that before 40, then I would be highly proud of myself.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

About Tonye Setima-Benebo

Tonye Setima-Benebo is a business development executive experienced in all aspects of sales and marketing communications. She also has a strong interest in women empowerment and gender equality. She is a yoga lover and enjoys listening to music from all around the world.

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