Ms. Millycent Mashele went on to defy the odds and left a vast corporate footprint before venturing out into entrepreneurship. She has worked for some of the largest corporates such as: The Auditor General South Africa, Gauteng Department of Finance, Sekela Xabiso and MTN where she occupied various roles.
At the helm of corporate excellence, she decided to embrace her calling and founded The Legacy Centre (Pty) Ltd. A management consulting firm that offers a comprehensive range of business solutions from advisory and taxation, accounting and audit services. Her vision is to create, anchor and preserve business legacies by enhancing financial skills to other businesses. The business is committed to the responsible transformation of South Africa and believe in an empowerment paradigm that is rooted in sustainable wealth creation born of personal and organizational integrity directed by Ms. Mashele. She provides coaching and mentoring services to professionals and executives through The Legacy Academy, focusing on research and practical based leadership, governance and personal excellence.
Q & A
1-What inspired, you to start a business and who had an influence on your business journey?
I am inspired by ordinary women who have been in informal business raising families and ensuring there is food on the table by being self-sufficient, my mother is one of those women who inspired me as she has managed to raise us as a single woman from being a street vendor. I then realise with the education I have acquired, I can be a dream come true to those women and build a formal business to honour the work they have been doing through their informal businesses. I am also inspired by the young people in my field of work, creating employment opportunities for them through my business and becoming an inspiration to them remains my daily inspiration.
2-What is the goal you strive to achieve regarding The Legacy Centre (Pty) Ltd?
Building a sustainable business that will play a role in the creation of generational wealth for all our stakeholders. I want the legacy centre to be a centre for business development in our country, for the business to create entrepreneurs who will then create employment. As a management consultancy and training business, I see the business to having business incubation centres throughout the country, to have a business school and be the firm that is in the forefront of building an entrepreneurial culture of excellence and growth.
3-What is your definition of success and do you regard yourself successful?
Success to me is the achievement of set goals through international and conscious personal efforts done with excellence. Then one becomes successful by driving their own goals and achieving them. I would then say there are traces of success in my life through the goals I have achieved, but at the same time there are goals I do not get to succeed on. Success is measured at a point in time considering the set goals, thus I continuously strive for success in all that I set out to do daily.
4- Managing a business comes with so many challenges and failures (Leaning experiences), how do manage to rise above all?
I consider failure as an opportunity to learn, it becomes the test of commitment and patience. I always say that behind that failure there is wisdom and experiences, I then get inspired to fail forward. When in business, one gets to fail so many times as this is a new environment full of many learning experiences. In each experience of failure, I ask myself what I could have done better and how do I improve and then laugh at my own mistakes, so that it does not discourage me. I am inspired by failure to do better and seek ways of improvement. We all must learn to fail graciously and continue our path to success without being discouraged by the failure we experience. Failure is not permanent, it fades the moment you secede on what you previously failed on.
5-Do you think the government is doing enough to empower entrepreneurs and what is lacking in our Eco-system to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship?
The Government good intentions and plans to empower entrepreneurs, the challenge is the implementation of those good plans. I do not think they have a great system of implementing empowerment programs for us entrepreneurs purely because of the culture of entrepreneurship in our country, it is not imbedded on the people, process and systems of government. We need a shift in mindset from the government officials entrusted with the responsibility to support entrepreneurs and we also need practical processes that can ensure the support is realised for the specific reason to empower. Government must foster an entrepreneurial culture within all spheres of government starting from education. Entrepreneurship empowerment cannot be driven in a form of compliance, a tick box exercise with no transformational agenda in place.
6- Do you have other business interests and how do you see yourself achieving them?
I am a business woman who believes in solving daily problems of customers, thus my business interests are driven by being the solution to customers and the economy at large. I strategically use my skills, experience, people, processes and technology to embark on new business interests. I believe in collaboration and innovation as ways to do business to solve daily problems, in so doing I then create employment for other.
7-What needs to happen to make a start-up business successful?
Start-up owners have to understand that they are starting a business, that is a legal entity. They need to start the business with the mind to grow this entity beyond themselves and survival mode. They need to have a vision bigger, that can be natured through time to be sustainable. For example, a start-up business selling tomatoes must have a vison to own tomatoes farms and the whole eco-system supporting the selling of tomatoes. The challenge we currently have is that start-ups does not have a growth mindset, then activities of that start-up becomes limited and self-centred around the owner.
8-How do you find balance in the various factions of your life to enhance productivity as a mother to your beautiful daughter, as a mentor, as Business women and community leader?
I do not use the word balance to measure my time and what I do with it, I use the word harmony. I believe there must be internal harmonious sound that is produced by all the activities I give my time to within me. What that means is that all that I do must serve to produce a pleasing sound around me. My child should be served with a unique sound that fulfils her, while I am serving the community, the business and myself as an individual. At any given point, the amount of time is then determined by the sound required. I live in so much awareness and consciousness of the harmony my life must create for myself and others including the community I live in, my friends and family.
9- We need more women in the leadership positions? Are we doing enough as an African continent?
Women are slowly moving into leadership roles, though at a very slow rate. It must become a conscious awareness from us women, to be bold enough to take up these leadership roles and to also empower other women to be ready to take up leadership role. The patriarchal system makes it hard for us women to transition into these roles with ease, thus we need to be aware of the system and face it with so much courage and be able to forgive actions influenced by where we come from. I am very optimistic on this one, the future is male and female for leadership roles, we need the balance of power.
10- Is there hope for Africa? Is there greatness in Africa and are there unlimited possibilities? What is your take?
So much hope, the youth of Africa are alive with possibilities, they just need to be enabled and encouraged to go on. There are challenges in our continent such as the political landscape and dependencies in other continents for the technology. I believe we have the right attitude to be hopeful for the future of Africa. I am a believer in that we all can achieve greatness, regardless of our background only if we believe and work on the greatness. Africa is ready to work on the greatness it has to create opportunities for all those that lives in it.
The success she attained through The Legacy Centre has seen her render keynote addresses on local and international platforms sharing her knowledge on her field. Ms. Mashele has shared the platform with the father of corporate governance, Mervyn King who is the founding author of King Code of Corporate Governance for South Africa.