Advice for young professionals

Never give up, don’t stop learning; and read! 

These are some of the lessons learnt by three powerful women who have excelled in their careers and shared their wisdom with young professionals during Nedbank’s first Young Professionals Inspiration Session, themed ‘Keeping your future goals in sight’.

With the current uncertainty, anxiety, fear and disillusionment, many young professionals are being forced to re-evaluate their current career paths and reassess their medium-term priorities. But Pearl Shongwe, Advocate Aurelia Nxumalo and Dr Tshepiso Matentjie all agree that young professionals must continue to keep their sights on their future goals.

Pearl Shongwe

‘As a young professional, in these times, you have to be like a child in your resilience by never letting the fear of striking out keeping you from playing.’ This is how the entrepreneur and media personality, Pearl Shongwe sees success and failure. ‘If you fall, you have to dust yourself off and try again. I have failed more times that I care to remember, but what failure has told me has been way more valuable than the lessons learned from my successes.’ 

Having kicked off her career in broadcasting at a South African commercial youth radio station in 2010, Pearl thrives in front of the camera, and has found her work experience incredibly fulfilling. Since joining the SABC in 2011, she’s had the opportunity to dabble on various broadcasting platforms, harnessing her skills to build a strong brand around her on the SABC 24-hour news channel, where she anchors news and sport news, as well as on Metro FM as a newsreader. 

‘I wanted to be a broadcaster since I was eight years old. I knew that I had a gift, but how do you take that gift and make a living from it? By grabbing opportunities no matter how small or irrelevant. I taught myself everything there is to know about broadcasting. I was deliberate about my actions, I kept knocking on doors and I kept asking questions. My advice to young professionals is to be brave, keep reinventing yourself, and keep exploring new possibilities. But most importantly, remember to have fun along your journey.’

Adv Aurelia Nxumalo

‘Keeping your future goals in sight may seem difficult amid a global pandemic, especially if you envisioned your goals at the start of the year. But I encourage you to go back right to the very beginning and define opportunity and what it means to you.’

Aurelia is an in-house legal counsel for a boutique investment and consultancy firm. She is a social entrepreneur and founded The Professionista. The Professionista aims to empower young women by ‘passing the baton’ in order to impart knowledge.

‘I’ve always known that my career would be in the legal industry. When I was 17, I recall writing on my vision board that in five years I would be a successful corporate lawyer. I was not aware of the road ahead, but I knew there was an opportunity – and that was mine to take. My advice to other young professionals is to learn continuously, whether it be from your mentors or from the various workshops or courses you attend – always be at the top of your game. Be unwavering in your goals, if you get an opportunity, dive in, even if you don’t know what you are doing. Position yourself for opportunities and be prepared for when it comes. Expose yourself to books, podcasts, news and share that exposure. And, lastly, be happy.’

Dr Tshepiso Matentjie

‘In my practice, I am starting to see the effects of Covid-19 on young professionals. They have rising debt. They still must pay their bond or rent, their car, black-tax payments and the water and electricity bill keeps coming every month – yet their pot of money is getting smaller and smaller. If you’ve had a salary cut, or lost your job, you will go through different emotions – denial, anger, depression, guilt and acceptance – but never lose sight of your goals.’

Dr Matentjie is a registered educational psychologist and life coach.She holds a PhD in psychology and her work experience spans 25 years in academia, psychological assessments, counselling, training and life coaching. Over the years she has consulted on various radio and television shows. As an academic, she has contributed chapters to books and have published work in local and international journals. She is currently pursuing her post-doctoral fellowship with Stellenbosch University with the intent to cement her scholarly career.

‘Covid-19 has taken a lot of things away, but it also provides opportunity. Take a moment, reflect on your health and your spending habits, recalibrate your purpose, and revise your work-life balance. Know your growth areas and recognise your strengths. Stop comparing yourself to others. Upskill yourself and read, read, read.’

Reflecting on the first webinar for young professionals, Grace Govender, Nedbank New Business, Development and Sales Support, said young professionals nationwide are feeling the pinch of the lockdown. 

‘In times of hardship you should not discount the value of speaking to a trusted financial provider about your financial challenges. As a young professional, you need a money expert in your corner who can help you find the right solution for the times. Nedbank’s private-banking experience not only offers a dedicated relationship banker for your daily banking needs, but also ensures you are connected to a wealth of specialists to navigate your financing and investment options to help especially when events are beyond your control,’ concludes Govender.