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From apartheid to corporate success, I’ve always been the best I can be

By Ntombi Mhangwani, Senior Manager, Accenture, Johannesburg

"To be the best where I come from, you have to keep on studying, keep on improving yourself."

When you know yourself and you believe in yourself, the world is your oyster. Ntombizodwa Mhangwani is my name. People call me Ntombi.

Continual learning is important to me because I come from a background where it was difficult to get even the basic foundation and training. I grew up in apartheid South Africa. Black people were not even considered important to get an education. To be the best where I come from, you have to keep on studying, keep on improving yourself.

My role model is my mother. My mother raised five girls. She put all five of us through private school because she was determined to get the best education South Africa could give us. My mother taught me to be assertive. I am who I am because of her. My mother taught me about the value of education and what I would get if I went all the way with it.

I have always had a huge hunger for continued learning and an ability to master and implement the new knowledge I gain. I would describe myself as a rare combination of acumen, persistence and charisma. I am popular, outgoing and a person who takes the initiative, yet also a person who recognizes the value of pausing for quiet analytical reflection.

I have always been a leader. After being selected to be the first black deputy head girl in school, I continued to hold numerous leadership positions in school and university.

I am currently the director for Integrated Marketing and Communications-Sub Saharan Africa for global professional services company Accenture. For me to be in the position I am now is beyond what my parents ever thought was possible. At the end of the day, what I am learning from my experience is that if you want something badly enough, you go for it!