Today we draw our inspiration from Gugu Zelda Mahlangu, born in Vosloorus, Gauteng. Gugu is a co-owner of CONSTEQ; an organisation that focuses on Consulting and Strategy Analysis, as well as up-skilling and resourcing candidates in SAP Software, Coaching and Mentoring.
My name is Gugu Zelda Mahlangu born in Vosloorus with fond memories of my grandparents bringing me up when my mom would work in Middleburg as an Ancillary Nurse. When they passed I would often visit my uncles house or my childhood friend’s home Nthabeleng (carry this friendship till this day). Until my mom had to make a challenging decision to take me to boarding school from the age of 7years old. My mom often tells me how family members tried to talk her out of making this decision to take a child to boarding school at such a tender age, let alone all the way to Limpopo at Lord Milner School.
No matter what people said, I am grateful my mom made the decision and stuck to her gut feel. As that is where my foundation of the person I am today was laid. I have fond memories of my grade one Teacher Mrs Hitchcock whom till this day I speak to often, the Matrons whom made sure we were well taken care of from food, to making sure our laundry was clean to even caring for us when we were sick. Some of my friends from primary are still my closest friends till this day, we meet as often as we can and or celebrate each other’s special moments like weddings and birthdays. High school was just a street away from my primary.
I enjoyed sports like swimming, tennis and basketball. Some extramural activities like Kunstefeeste, Debating, painting, cookery class etc. I surely must admit boarding school taught me to try out a lot of various activities and never just be master of one craft.
I matriculated in 2006, went to the University of Johannesburg where I began my degree in Development Studies. During this time, I was exposed to United Nations Debating I enjoyed keeping busy, but because I was raised by a single parent often I would need to help my mother financially so I would work part time jobs. This was more my personal pocket money, I used to do anything from Verimark Telesales, promotions or receptionist work for Dial a Student. Such exposure not only taught me the value of working for your money but built my experience for when I completed my degree. When I completed my degree I had built my experience and network pool in such a way that the CEO of the promotions company I worked for was looking for Junior Recruitment Consultants and I was one of the chosen junior recruiters. This I believe was not only because I knew the employees, however because of the persistence, continual eagerness to learn that people saw greatness in me and entrusted that I was capable to do the work.
Fast forward to my breakthrough working at Accenture SA where I was exposed to more people who inspired me to do better and work hard, having joined as an HR Administrator I worked hard and left having been a certified SAP HCM Consultant. Now I am currently employed at Discovery as an IT Business Analyst within the SAP Success Factors systems project implementation. I am also building my company which is just a seed at the moment however growing with more opportunities in the pipeline.
What were the challenges and great things about growing up?
The challenges I faced growing up was trying to fit in, especially coming from a community all the way in Vosloorus, living in a 4 room house and yet I attended a multiracial boarding school. My mom would come often to my swimming gala not driving like other parents, so a lot of comparison would take place in my own personal mind. However, I learnt at a later stage in my life that all this was just my own mind going wild with comparisons verse the lessons in all this that the key to success had nothing to do with where I’m from or the circumstances I had inherited but it had everything to do with the belief through effort and persistence we grow. As I look back now all this was just my journey, I had to experience all that to be the woman I am today. I am the only child to my mom and what I love about how she brought me up without the only child syndrome mentality people often speak of. She taught me the importance of giving back, caring for people less fortunate. So we often buy small gifts for grannies in our street or from church on Mother’s Day, or visit the Orphanages, but most was how she still was able to extend the little we had to care for other children too. I learnt there is no such thing as too much love, love can be shared and spread amongst others whilst not neglecting your immediate family too.
Your career? What is it that you do? What inspired you to do what you do?
My current choice of career path I must express was nothing I knew of when I was in varsity esp. during the career path I wanted to take. However, after the challenges of working in small enterprises I wanted my longevity stamp in the corporate, so I would ask the recruiters where the gap was in the organization at the time. They mentioned SAP Payroll so I took to doing my research, when I realized it was rather expensive and I was only an administrator so my earnings were not much at that time. When the odds were against me I took a leap of faith and took up a study loan. I was determined that passing and getting certified was my big break. Though it was a long shot, as after my certification were the challenges of getting project experience, until I got a project months after passing and being unemployed. I have never turned back since then and I enjoy the challenges but also the drive of continual learning.
I have since built networks in such a way that I met my business partner on one of my previous projects. He saw something in me and through our likeness registered CONSTEQ, we focus in Consulting and Strategy Analysis, up-skilling and Resourcing Candidates in SAP Software, Coaching and Mentoring. We are continually expanding and building our area of expertise.
What do you like most about yourself and the work that you do?
It took some career and personal downfalls that made me realise that I love being called “different”, as that confirms to me I am not like my friends or the next person. I am individually made and brought to this world to live MY Purpose. As often we get so lost in copying what another person is doing or wishing goals of other people that we go off course from our own destiny.
What are some of the challenges which you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
My greatest challenge that stands out in my life was being unemployed for 2 months and all I had was a dream and a possible opportunity was on the table for a project however they could only employ me months later on the project. So I said I would work and learn for free till I could gain experience but moreover get paid when the contract commenced later in August. I had expenses and bills to pay but none of that seemed to cloud my judgement, I believed the Almighty would not make a way and yet leave me on the way side. SO my faith during that time was tested. That’s when I tapped deeper into being prayerful and believing that there is a greater power that looks out for me and sees me through.
What are some of your life highlights for you so far? What are you most proud of?
My most proud moment is making my mom proud, as I feel there is no greater fulfilment as a parent persevering and seeing their child/children excel. All other personal goals like purchasing my house, buying car etc. are achievements that I am grateful I have been able to do at this age that I am.
What, in your opinion, are the most important factors to keep in mind to make it in your career or life in general?
Key areas of importance:
- Constant Learning. Always keeping abreast with innovation and knowledge, this will widen your platform and channel you to your purpose
- Network Network Network. No individual is big or small, so learn to engage with people as you may never know where your next breakthrough is coming from. I have learnt from one Senior Manager is keeping a board of directors whom you keep to always bounce ideas to, or just seek advice from.
- Pace yourself and stay in your own lane
Where would you like to see yourself in the next three years?
Futuristic plans I see myself making CONSTEQ a great success, influential in the community and in corporate. Personal areas I still would like to expand on in the coming years is mentor youth, through public engagements and also tap into my Development Studies through internal relations.
If there was anything you could do differently, what would it be?
I believe “Life is a journey not a destination” therefore I would not change anything about my life. As mistakes are there to be made so we can learn from them that’s how we expose ourselves to doing things differently because we know how to decipher when we are exposed to different situations and make better decisions.
Are there any specific people or organisations that you look up to and draw inspiration from and why?
My first point of reference is my mother, however I have been exposed to women and men whom I call my board of directors and mentors. The one lady I keep close to till this day is Puleng Sesedinynana (I also call her Ma). She has been one woman that has helped steer my career and personal development and I also work closely with her on a Non-profit Organisation called PECULIAR DIVA. It is an organisation that seeks to inspire and mentor women, to elevate them in their identity and allow them to blossom within this generation. This organisation is governed by the principles of fellowship, discipleship, evangelism and teaching of the word of God to any woman or girl with a Christian background.
Are there any inspiring projects which you’re involved in?
Mentioned above PECULIA DIVIA
Lastly, what advice would you give to others out there looking to follow in your footsteps?
Never doubt YOUR purpose or future because the now looks bleak, keep pressing on and trust the process.
How can the public contact you?
Facebook: Zelda Gugu Mahlangu
Website if available: www.consteq.co.za