More women are flooding the business world in recent times with the knowledge that women can be and do whatever they choose. With this news zeal, some women have made costly mistakes while some others struggle to break even- only a few have had an almost smooth sailing journey.
Although companies have begun to apply women-friendly rules in the business space, women are still faced with the obvious reality that they have to battle it out with their male counterparts in order to make their mark and as such seek methods on how to navigate these one-time male-exclusive spaces successfully.
Mamokete Ramathe, CEO, Mamor Capital South Africa, in an exclusive interview with Amazons Watch Magazine, has identified self-worth as a key factor which every woman must cling to in order to thrive in business circles. She also shares some of her big success secrets and suggests ways by which women can impact more in society. Excerpt:
Can you tell us more about MAMOKETE RAMATHE, and some of the positive advice and attributes you carried on from childhood which helped to shape the woman you have become?
I am the founder and CEO of Mamor Capital, a boutique transaction advisory firm focusing on mergers and acquisitions as well as project finance transactions. Mamor Capital’s offering includes deal structuring of debt and equity transactions for small to medium-sized enterprises and capital raising activities. The investment arm of the business focuses on targeting investment opportunities within technology, media, telecoms and energy sectors.
My professional experience spans across Corporate Finance advisory, Private Equity, Mezzanine Finance, Infrastructure Project Finance and Mergers and Acquisition. A winner of the Association of Black Securities Investment Professional (“ABSIP”) Project Financier of the Year (Individual Category) Award for 2014.
My principles are premised on the belief that recognizes the value of diversity in thinking and collaboration as well as embracing unique attributes in each individual. I’m very passionate about the development of women in business and initiatives aimed at unlocking people’s potential.
The one thing that sticks out when I think about my upbringing and what kept me going as I was growing up is how I observed the resilience and inner strength demonstrated by mother who was a school teacher and had to carry most of the responsibilities when my dad could not be there for us. She encouraged me to carry and keep my dreams alive as she continued to demonstrate passion and commitment towards her profession as a teacher, in and outside the classroom, she taught me to love what I do and never let circumstances cloud my vision of the future. She recently retired after many years of demonstrating passion, love and caring for children’s education and well-being. I draw a lot of inspiration from how my mother and her strength.
I was raised in a family where spirituality was embraced and the relationship with God was encouraged, I continue to see God as the source and foundation of everything I do and it is my relationship with God that keeps me grounded. I learned the importance of education and continuous learning and developing skills as a critical path to growth and staying relevant.
I’m now married to my best friend, lover and a great dad to my two kids, the support and love they give me keeps me going and I’m grateful to know that I can pursue my dreams, live out my passion and share my life with others whilst I demonstrate to my kids that life is lived from the inside out and not from the outside in. I teach them that their dream and inner sense of power can help them rise above all challenges provided they are fully alive to that truth.
What were some of the choice dreams and aspirations you had growing up as a young girl, and how far would you say you have come towards achieving them?
My choices and dreams were evolving in line with the amount of experience, knowledge and exposure acquired overtime. Prior to me completing my matric I had limited knowledge of the vast career opportunities one could pursue in various fields and it is safe to say that I had only been exposed to teachers, nurses, doctors, policemen as successful professions in my community at the time. I, however, yearned for something different, I needed to experience a world outside of where I’ve been and do things I had not seen done during our years growing up, so any of the professions I’ve seen before were as a result not an option for me. I was going to be successful in another way, I was going to do something different, I was going to make my family proud, and I was just going to do something out of the norm with what our reality was growing up in the township. I always wanted to be someone who can inspire others, I used to occupy various leadership positions at church and at school and my love for serving within the community grew in me and I always knew that I would want to find myself at the service of others no matter what I did. It is on the back of this desire that I find myself utilizing whatever opportunity I get to contribute towards the upliftment of others when it is in my power to act.
You have risen fast up the corporate ladder from Corporate Finance Executive at Cazenove (SA) through the enviable position of the Executive Head – M&A division at Vodacom and now the CEO of Mamor Capital (Pty) Ltd. What are some of the challenges you faced as a woman, rising fast up the corporate ladder?
I quickly learned that the corporate environment can be a contentious ground as people contend for their survival, recognition, validation, etc. Sometimes other people’s values allow them to pursue self-interests and contend for their existence at the expense of others. In my career journey, I was not shielded from such people but I also came into contact with such and it is important to have a strong sense of worth when you come against such people or circumstance that seek to prevail at your expense. On the other hand, I also learned that the corporate environment provides a platform for us to express who we are and make our mark through service. Growth opportunities are there and it is incumbent upon us to utilize opportunities presented to us and make them count. The important thing I learned in encountering both situations at different facets of my life is having a sense of self-worth. It is very important that you don’t let the world define you but you give meaning to your existence and teach the world about who you are and what you are about. It is important that I’m always deliberate about setting my goals and designing a path of how I plan to achieve my goals. I have also been very fortunate to meet people who are like-minded and selfless in their approach, whenever I come into contact with such people, I embrace them and keep them within my circle of the network because it is through learning from great men and women who are visionaries that I can also grow to be an inspiration to others. Indeed, challenges will always be there and mine have come in numbers but somehow I have always looked within myself to find courage, determination, self-worth and a will to succeed.
Being able to create a network of people I can trust, who in most cases are more successful than me in other areas, whom I can learn and be accountable to. This has really strengthened my capability to navigate through a lot of challenges. I don’t face challenges alone in silence I have the confidence to speak up and share my views and benefit from other people’s wisdom. At the same time, I avail myself for others to draw from my experiences especially other women in business as well as students or young professionals who require that kind of support.
I am blessed to have a professional coach who challenges me, at every point with regards to my career goals and leadership journey, her role is to hold me accountable to a path I’m set out to achieve, and ensure that there is clarity and intention behind every move I make. I owe my growth and success to such partnerships as I believe this journey requires good partnerships and strong support structure.
Having held several Leadership positions in the corporate world; where, and in what roles would you say women appear in the Talent Pipeline?
To date, women have made remarkable gains in higher education and in studying towards fields that were previously male-dominated. We still see women entering the job market in high numbers and rising to management positions, however, the rate at which women break into higher and executive-level positions is still challenging and needs much improvement. This is a societal issue that needs to be tackled from various angles including top leadership in corporates, and implementing targeted programs aimed at empowering and supporting women. I’m so pleased to have been part of other initiatives aimed at recognizing companies that are intentional in pushing the gender transformation and empowerment agenda in South Africa, with initiatives like those we are headed in the right direction.
One of the biggest barriers to making progress in gender equality is said to rest in the minds of men and women, and is known as Unconscious Bias; how have you been able to deal with this in your journey up the corporate ladder?
Self-awareness is very foundational to me because it helps me set boundaries and define how I want to play within the rules of the game in the corporate or business world. For as long as I’m clear about what I want to achieve and the environment I require to enable me to achieve what I am set out to achieve, I can easily recognize the behaviour that is out of quilter with my values and belief system and address it for what it is. It all starts with knowing and understanding self so you can call out behaviour that is unfounded towards you.
People will try to deal with us as women according to how they were socialized and what their internal belief system tells them about what it means to be a woman. Ultimately it is about asserting myself. In so doing, a person holding a narrow view of who I should be can learn from me authentically standing up for myself. If we do not define our true self the world will attempt to misdefine and confine us. We should exercise our own personal power in projecting who we are lest we allow others to determine our worth.
In the course of your career, you have demonstrated a great dedication towards the development of women, assuming your new role as the CEO of the newly established Mamor Capital (Pty) Ltd., What Policies would you put into place to move the organization toward Gender Equality?
The newly established Mamor Capital is a boutique transaction advisory firm with an investment arm aimed at targeting acquisition opportunities in targeted sectors. Mamor Capital will focus mainly on investment opportunities within TMT and Energy sectors which is the sector where I believe more and more women should participate at strategic ownership levels and various parts of the value chain to drive value. We need more women representation that has the capacity to lead and develop others, as well as participate meaningfully to grow the economy.
I have the opportunity to partner with other women in projects, and to bring in more women when identifying the right investment opportunities. I will continue supporting various mentorship programs aimed at empowering women to unlock their potential and pursuing their purpose.
Aside from your routine activities, what are some of the things that MAMOKETE RAMATHE does leisurely?
I go to the gym regularly, read business and personal development books, going to church, outings with my friends and spending quality time with family is very therapeutic for me.I take time to give talks and speak when invited to share my perspective on leadership and women development. I also enjoy spending time with my mentees, i.e. young professionals and other women in corporate, as I draw inspiration from an exchange that takes place during mentorship sessions.
What’s the best way for the readers of Amazons Watch Magazine to connect with you?
Facebook: Mamokete Ramathe and on Linkedin: https://za.linkedin.com/in/mamokete-ramathe-a8954b19