A passion in people

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Although her areas of expertise are vast, businesswoman Riah Phiyega's passion lies in people - with a special focus on women empowerment.

"The development of women is my passion because of who they are. They are natural nurturers and are able to impart the knowledge they receive to their children and those around them.

"I am also passionate about women because education gives people a fighting weapon for a lifetime and it will help you develop other people around you. If people are educated, they are able to get jobs as they have skills to sell. That is why I believe we have to inject as much resources as we can into education."

Phiyega is Absa's group executive for public affairs, a position she has held since 2005.

She holds a Masters degree in Social Sciences and has completed several executive courses. She has also held the post of group executive for corporate affairs at Transnet and general manager for ports and corporate affairs at the National Ports Authority.

"I do not see myself as a feminist. I am a womanist - it embodies the ability to celebrate the best of me as a woman. I want to be the best mother and homemaker I can be. There should be a difference between me and my male counterparts," she said.

Phiyega is married and has two daughters. She believes that although there are policies on women development, it is still hard for women to achieve the same success as men.

"It is difficult to penetrate and show your head. As a woman you have to work four times more than your male counterparts. But you must not allow these things to form barriers between you and your work. I am grateful for what I have achieved in my job. But sometimes I wonder what has stopped me from becoming the CEO of a certain place.

On leadership she says: "You cannot be a leader if you cannot lead yourself. You have to know who you are, where you are going, what you are chasing in life and when you have achieved part of the race."