Most people would rather have their teeth pulled than have their spouse as a boss, but not Doreen Vilakazi, the chief executive of Capital Edge Investments (CEI).
CEI is a black-owned Investment Company and its latest acquisition was a 51percent share of Blitz Concrete South Africa.
Vilakazi is married to Jerry Vilakazi, CEI's chairman. He is also the chief executive of Business Unity South Africa and former managing director of the Black Management Forum. The couple has worked together since 1989, when he was principal at the school where she was a teacher.
"I love having my husband as a boss because we can have board meetings at night," says the 43-year-old Vilakazi.
Growing up in KwaMashu, north of Durban, Vilakazi had aspirations of rising above what her immediate surroundings presented. Her mother, a domestic worker, was the breadwinner and with her meagre earnings struggled to put Vilakazi and her four siblings through school.
She matriculated from Nombika High School in 1982 and went on to study towards a Bachelor of Pedagogy (B Paed) degree at the University of Zululand. While she was there she met Jerry and they got married in 1985. They had their first child in 1986. As a result Vilakazi had to take a break from her studies and only graduated in 1987.
"Having to go back to university after getting married made me a very bad student," she says. "I was constantly disappearing to look after my child and my husband, but I made it."
She then made it her goal to study every year and today she has a string of qualifications behind her name, including a Master of the Arts (MA) in Information Management; a Postgraduate Diploma in Policy Research; a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Studies and a Bachelor of Education degree.
Vilakazi, a born again Christian, has had a remarkable career as a teacher, a publisher, a director of policy and strategy and the head of the Gauteng Provincial Service Commission. She is currently the chairman of Blitz Concrete, and a board member of ExecuPrime Holdings, the Graduate Institute of Management & Technology, Tower Group and Johannesburg Zoo.
She has three sons and says: "The most important way to balance family life and the boardroom is to divide your time accordingly, while tackling everything you do with your whole heart."