Today I got excellent news from some of the people I have been a cheerleader to this year. Two students who struggled through their post grad in accounting messaged me to say they passed, and that they’d be applying for masters degrees next year.
And a student that I wrote a reference letter for and mentored got accepted into one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.
And one of the entrepreneurs I mentor was featured in a magazine and showed up all over social media.
I love hearing and seeing people flourish like this. I love celebrating their achievements. And I love standing on the sidelines and being the biggest cheerleader I can be.
Sometimes we’re all too concerned about our own successes and forget that we can be a function of someone else’s success. We can support people, cheer them on and celebrate when they cross the finish line.
So congratulations to the four incredible people that achieved great things today. I will continue to cheer for you and can’t wait for the epic things you’ll all do in your lives.
P.s I haven’t forgotten about the Role Models series…. in fact, tomorrow’s role model is who has shown me the value of cheerleading. Tune in to see who this person is 🙂
Image is of a butterfly I saw this morning that had just emerged from it’s cocoon. The symbolism to this blog post was too great to not upload the picture
The first time I saw Professor Phakeng was at an event on social cohesion, hosted by the Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII). I knew little about her before the event, but after seeing her speak I knew that she was a game changer, and that she was a role model to me.
Throughout the event she spoke up and challenged ideas, bringing an intellectual rigor, relevance and confidence that I had never seen in a talk like that. Her insights were profound and I remember being left with so much to think about.
Since then I’ve been following her on Twitter, and seen how engaged and connected she is with students and people from all over the country.
And when it was announced that she was in the running to be our new Vice-Chancellor, I was so so incredibly excited.
I was even more excited when it was confirmed.
So, briefly, let me tell you why Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng (Kgethi) is one of my role models
Reason 1: Connected and on the ground
The thing that I probably admire most about Kgethi is that she is incredibly connected to students at UCT and around the country. She engages with people both online (usually Twitter) and in person, where she’s always happy to stop and chat to someone that says hi.
This quality is so unique for a leader in her position, but there should be more leaders that do this. The reason is that being close to the ground helps a leader understand the people they are serving and make better decisions as a result.
By doing this, she is able to respond to the needs of students as well as inspire them, which is phenomenal.
Below are two recent tweets from her. Notice that she wasn’t tagged in the first one, but because she follows the students she is able to respond to them.
Tweet number 2:
Reason 2: Making Education Fashionable #BeltSwag
In December 2017, before she was VC, Kgethi started a hashtag that trended across South Africa and the continent. The hashtag was #BeltSwag, with the idea that students should post their graduation pictures to both recognise them and inspire others. And also, to make education fashionable.
The original tweet is embedded below, followed by a tweet by one of my former students, Glenda, at her graduation with her mom. Glenda’s tweet went viral 🙂
I’ve never seen anything like the #BeltSwag tag, where an academic started a nationwide trend. And it still gets used to this day.
As a lecturer, this is exactly the type of inspiration I love to see for the students.
Reason 3: Communicating
Kgethi communicates to UCT students and staff to the best of her ability. She sends emails that contain detailed information to update us on the activities that are going on at the university. This includes a recent one where she acknowledged and apologised on the university’s behalf for skeletons that were obtained unethically by the university in the mid 1900s.
Beyond this, she constantly uses her platforms to promote scholarships and opportunities to a wide community. An example of this is the tweet below about funding that is available at UCT.
Her transparency and communication is exactly what a leader should have, and it’s just another reason that she is a phenomenal role model.
Reason 4: Fierce Resolve
Finally, I admire the fierce resolve and commitment that Kgethi shows to the causes she believes in. For example, she has pledged to donate 10% of her salary to fund UCT students, as she believes in making education accessible. And, in order to save money at the university, she cancelled the inauguration ceremony planned for her, which would have cost around R1million.
Kgethi is an incredible leader. She is connected to the students, continues to inspire them, communicates effectively and shows incredibly commitment in all that she does.
She is one of my role models. And I hope that I can continue to learn from her leadership.
In the last few weeks I’ve been slacking a little bit when it comes to posting blogs. It’s been a combination of being busy and being really tired. But also, I’ve been focusing on doing things gently and sustainably instead of forcing them.
That said, I am so close to my goal of #365of25. I’ve written 337 blog posts, a number I would never have expected to achieve. And I only have 28 more to go.
There are also only 16 days before my birthday. And I fully intend on wrapping up the 365 blog posts while I’m still 25.
I’ve decided that I’m going to have two themes for the upcoming blog posts.
The first will be on role models. I’m going to write 3 blogs on some of the most important role models in my life. These won’t include friends and family, as I’ve mentioned before in the blog how these are my day to day role models. Instead, I’m going to be talking about people that inspire my career path and help me set goals for who I want to become.
The second will be a set of 25 posts about 25 lessons I’ve learnt over the last year. They’ll follow a similar flow to the current blog posts, but with the objective of reflecting on the past year and passing on some of the knowledge I’ve acquired. I’ll likely post two of these a day.
With just over two weeks left of the journey, I am both excited and proud of myself. And to those that have followed this journey since day 1, thank you for being there and for all the encouragement.
It’s the final countdown… We’ve nearly made it to #365of25
The morning was spent with Rejane and David from the Bulungula Incubator. They spoke to the Strategic Thinking class and told us their journey from being in the same class in 1996 to leading one of the most phenomenal development organisations I’ve ever seen. I’m not joking when I say that I was so excited and inspired that I nearly passed out.
Lunch was spent with my colleagues/mentors Dale and Ali. We spoke about education and entrepreneurship and how we’re going to develop new ways to catalyze students into high impact careers.
The afternoon was spent with my team from the course, and went through the top startup ideas in the class. Their theme was to focus on waste management businesses and in the end we settled on 6 phenomenal projects.
The evening was spent at the year end presentations of the Phaphama entrepreneurs with the students that had helped them throughout the year. I left the event beaming with pride, and overwhelmed with the incredible work that has been done.
Today was magic.
And I cannot believe how fortunate I am to spend time with all these incredible sparks
Image is of students waiting to chat to Rejane and Dave after their guest lecture