Vumile Msweli is an international speaker, renowned coach and the Chief Executive officer for Hesed Consulting. Hesed is a consulting firm specializing in commerce acceleration, career coaching, women empowerment, facilitation and training on the African continent.
Vumile has worked in Europe, Asia and across the African continent for reputable multinational institutions including Barclays, Investec, Nedbank, First National Bank and Vodafone.
She is an award-winning businesswoman who has received honors such as the Women’s’ Economic Forum’s Woman of Excellence Award, named 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media, the Mail and Guardian Top 200 most influential Young South Africans.
Vumi has also been awarded the Elle Boss of the Year in the Corporate Category. As we celebrate women’s month in South Africa, Vumi talks about what she’s learned from globetrotting and her driving force to start her business.
Traveling is one of the best educations you can give yourself - @vumilemsweli Click To Tweet
Tell us about your experience studying in various countries and how its helped you
I am a vehement advocate for education and its ability to transform lives. I also believe that traveling is one of the best educations you can give yourself.
The combination of expanding my worldview through both formal and informal learning by studying in different countries has been invaluable to be me. It helped me realize how I am a global citizen with proudly African roots.
Living abroad also shifted my thinking to want to excel at a global level whilst keeping my local values. I also learned that where I was born doesn’t define where I belong.
How did studying in West Africa change your perspective about business and career?
Being an African, one tends to think of the entire continent as home but West Africa definitely has an energy like no place on earth. There are a palpable entrepreneurial spirit and an optimistic view of taking control and accountability for your life as a pose to making excuses as to why you aren’t where you could be.
The competition is also very tough, you look at Nigeria and realize that the population of Lagos alone is half the population of my country South Africa.
There are also some infrastructural challenges such as energy but no one sits around waiting for the government to resolve these. Everyone gets on with it and takes it upon themselves to excel despite these challenges.
Being in West Africa imprinted in me the importance of a diverse revenue stream, the importance of being able to sustain oneself in a cash economy as a pose to being enslaved by credit for survival.
West Africans exude an apologetic confidence for their existence, their desires, and the pursuit of their dreams. Being surrounded by a culture like that leaves you no choice but to walk with your head a little taller, work harder and make no excuses as you toil towards your own goals.
What prompted you to start your business – Hesed Consulting?
I found myself having coaching conversations with friends and acquaintances on various career-related topics and soon realized that I had acquired some niche knowledge.
Especially around accelerating my career, what seemed to me to be a simple strategic career or finance play was a non-discussion amongst my peers.
I thoroughly enjoy seeing people transform through a shift in perception. Marianne Williamson aptly said: “ a miracle is a shift in perception”.Certainly, I wanted to be a part of that miracle.
Vumi is truly a teacher at heart, I love sharing what I have learned. So the look on someone’s face as they utter “I never thought of it that way before” and then proceed to change the direction of their lives because of that conversation gives me great joy.
Being a part of that sacred space of sharing tools and experiences that help my clients leapfrog their learning and accelerate their careers and businesses truly makes my heart sing. That’s what prompted me to start Hesed and it’s the reason why Hesed is still in existence 6 years later.
At Hesed, we work with individuals and entrepreneurs to accelerate their careers and businesses. We do this through workshops; training; coaching and consulting. We have a pan-African approach; global exposure whilst remaining locally relevant.
I guess what makes our team rather unique is that we have executive experience across sectors so we understand the pressures of both corporate and entrepreneurship. Also, many of our teams have worked and lived in different countries and continents.
That cultural richness allows for diversity in thinking when tailor making solutions for our clients.
How did you go from being a trained accountant working in an international financial institution to a becoming an international speaker and accelerator coach?
I had the scholarship to study my Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting Sciences but soon realized after completing that it definitely was not my passion.
Actually, I recalled working at an Investment Bank early in my career and instead of focusing on the financial audit work I was assigned to found myself in the customer care department worrying about clients. I was more concerned about the organization’s strategy and operational ability to service them better.
Needless to say, my career shifted towards being people-centric and that has never changed. It just expanded to their strategies for success and how they can operate better in their careers and personal lives.Being African allows us to see the world through a certain lens - @vumilemsweli Click To Tweet
How valuable is it to be African and think global?
I often say I am a proudly African global citizen. Thinking global allows us to elevate our standards; fast track our learning; bring international best practices to the continent whilst expanding our reach to the whole world.
Thinking global in my opinion should not be in exchange for our what makes us African. Being African allows us to see the world through a certain lens and more often than not have a shared experience such as valuing Ubuntu; a tangible sense of community, a rich heritage, and culture.
This is an advantage for us because selfish capitalism is no longer sustainable as a means of doing business. This is an opportunity for the whole world to bask in Africa’s rising.
Who are your mentors and what life lessons have you’ve learned from them?
Lillian Barnard taught me that femininity and executive power are not mutually exclusive that being feminine is a power within itself.
Sindi Mabaso-Koyane has taught me that there is indescribable joy in being of service to others. By asking how you can serve allows you to rise to the occasion of fulfilling your purpose.
Buyile Ngcobo reminds me constantly that being my most authentic self is the fuel to propel me to my destiny.
How do you set goals for yourself? Do you use a one year, 5-year plan, or the traditional vision, board?
I am a very visual person so vision boards work well for me using images and words to draw experiences to me is one of my favorite things.
In my bedroom, my vision board is framed and is actually one of the first things I see when I wake up. My vision boards offer inspiration for me as I pursue my goals and lofty dreams.
You are constantly building networks across the continent, how does this translate to business for you?
Not as fast as you would think. I am a big believer in genuine relationship building. People can very often sense if you are coming from a transactional place or being authentic. This may be the slow route but people do business with people.
So I take time to really get to know the people I engage and in turn, they get to know my heart, energy, and personality. Thus they have the ability to vouch for not just a brand but a woman they know and trust.My vision boards offer inspiration for me as I pursue my goals and lofty dreams - @vumilemsweli Click To Tweet
You’ve been to 50/51 countries in the world. Where was your favorite place, and why?
This feels like a trick question! I like different places for different reasons. I enjoy Bali, Indonesia for the simplicity and warmness of its people who will share their last cent to make you feel at home.
I enjoy Lagos, Nigeria because it’s insomniac energy inspires the entrepreneur in me to dream bigger and work enthusiastically towards my goals.
Prague, the Czech Republic for its architectural beauty makes me feel like I am in a painting.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa because it’s my home. From the breathtaking valley of a thousand hills, it’s rich history to its warm beaches all year round to my mother’s cooking.
What drives Vumi?
Leaving a legacy drives me. It was sagely said that we die twice. Once when they put you in the ground. Second when they utter your name for the last time. It’s that second death that drives me what can I do in life to make life easier for the next person that the impact of my existence may be felt long after my body is in the ground.
What’s the one advice you’d give to your younger self?
Vumile you are enough.
It’s unbelievable how enough you are. You are God’s child, definitely one of his favorites. Your destiny is larger than any of your wildest imaginings.
So go ahead and be the fulfillment of your wildest dreams you can imagine yourself to be.
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