Politics: VUMILE MSWELI: Love for culture took me to 60 countries Daily Parrot


Vumile Msweli, the Chief Executive Officer of Hesed Consulting a coaching and consulting firm with specialisation in career coaching, women Empowerment and commerce acceleration, among others. The on-air personality and talk show host spoke with YETUNDE OLADEINDE about her life, inspiration, fondness for young people and achievements, among other issues.

LET’S talk about your experience as a career coach…                                                                       

I am fortunate as a career coach to works with graduates, executives, corporate employees and entrepreneurs from all over the world. I have the privilege of supporting in their journey from where they currently find themselves to where they want to be in their career. We achieve this through one to one sessions, group coaching, master classes, self-coaching tools such as my Career Acceleration Journal and our flagship Career Acceleration Programme.

What has been the experience working with global teams and multinational institutions?

Our service is about attracting, retaining and growing human capital. We fulfill this through recruitment, coaching, training and consulting. It is wonderful to work with globally respected organisations like Google, MTN and Vodafone,  just to mention a few. These opportunities allow me to leverage my experience working in countries like Germany, Singapore, Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

It allows us to share global best practice while remaining locally relevant. Our global footprint (Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, United States of America and Kenya) at Hesed allows us to be able to better support our clients.

What inspired you to go into commerce acceleration?

I was fortunate about strategically building my career in an accelerated manner. I was an executive reporting to the CEO by the age of 24. I realised that corporate is a game and a lot of people don’t realise that nor do they know the rules of engagement in order to ensure success. This for me became an opportunity to share these learnings, especially with African women, to help us close the gender gap, increase diversity to ensure we become more globally competitive as a continent.

What are some of your achievements as an operations, finance and strategy executive?

I have been blessed to be recognised for my life’s work by a number of international platforms. From being named a woman of excellence by the Women’s Economic Forum; invited to be a member of the Forbes Women Council; Elle Magazine’s Boss of the Year; named 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media; Africa’s 1000 Voices; Santam Women of the Future; Pan African business women by CEO Magazine; and named by Voice of Canada as one of the world’s leading coaches and being honoured in my home country of South Africa to be a Brand South Africa Ambassador.

What has been your experience working in different parts of the African continent?

Africa has one of the most diverse cultures in the world with some key values that unite us as a continent. I have learnt to identify as an African first and not allow the nuances in our differences to become a deterrent. I have found West Africa to have a high energy and pace with unapologetic ambition. I have spent some time in West Africa from studying my post graduate in Ghana to building my business in Nigeria. I have a special place in my heart for East Africa the “Hakuna Matata” (no worries) laid back yet still people.

What are some of the memorable moments in helping to empower women?

As career coach, I support women in their careers leveraging the pillars of public speaking; corporate politics; career strategy and finance. A special experience was being appointed career coach for the United Nations’ Secretary General Banki Moon’s foundation. I worked with young women across the continent working on climate change from Democratic Republic of Congo; Nigeria; Egypt; Kenya and South Africa.

Our coaching sessions have aided them to have a shift in perspective and supported their journey to help catapult them in their career and have a global impact in a worldwide problem. This work is something I am very proud of.

How have you been helping young people who are passionate about growing their business?


I am from a country that has 64% youth unemployment; the highest on the globe. We founded the Hesed Africa Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports youth and women issues. We have collaborated with organisations like mining giant Anglo to host entrepreneurship workshops in rural areas to help address youth unemployment. This is something we work tirelessly on. We also do youth career workshops to help unemployed graduates in their job search and career growth.

Tell us about life as an On-air personality.

I use different platforms to share human capital and business insights in the career field on various platforms. In Nigeria, I am the resident career coach on Arise News and Smooth FM. I have also written for The Guardian, BellaNaija and Business Day on careers. In Botswana, I am on Duma FM. Whilst in South Africa, I am a regular on Kaya FM and SA FM as well as I have my own column in True Love magazine. This requires me to stay on top of global trends whilst having an in-depth knowledge of the relevant country dynamics. This has created opportunities for me to be a public speaker and MC with a number of large organisations.

What are some of the lessons learnt?

I have learnt the importance of staying humble and hungry in my pursuit of learning about the nuances in the various countries I operate business in. I have also found the importance of building relationships. I believe in the African philosophy of Ubuntu: we are because of others. This is what I keep at the heart of all that I do.

What are some of the other things that occupy your time?

I spend a lot of time studying as I am busy with my doctorate. I also travel as I am inherently curious about other cultures and the way of living of people across the globe. This is probably why I have been to over 60 countries in the world. I also love spending time with my friends and family and immersing myself in a really good book.

What are some of the changes that you would like to see on the African continent?

I would like to see a more united Africa that leverages our collective advantage. In 2030, we will have the largest population in the globe

and in 2100, 40% of the world will be African. We can use this to our advantage if we are united economically. If we are able to freely move goods, services and people across the continent, we could enjoy the same benefits as the European Union and leverage bulk buying power, giving us a very powerful seat in the global table.

Did you have mentors at the beginning? What has been their impact?

I thoroughly believe in mentorship. Having someone who is further down the road than you gives you access to invaluable insights. This information allowed me to avoid obstacles, cultivate sponsorship relationships and be agile in my approach.

What advice do you have for young people about the current challenges in the global economy?

It is important to realise that we are part of a global village and as such we need to be globally competitive. How you use your frame of reference to your advantage and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset will help you face any challenges in the economy.

Who or what do you consider as the greatest influence in your life?

My faith and culture have shaped me a great deal. These are my foundation and compass. They direct me and create a framework from

which I live my life. My faith is my foundation ensuring that I fulfill my purpose that God has set out for me. My culture is how I move, knowing that I do not represent myself alone but have to honour my surname bestowed on me by my ancestors, knowing that what I do reflects on not only myself but other Africans as well.

Breaking the bias was the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day. What does this mean to you? As a career coach, it is natural thing that I consider the workplace. I think of biases like female bosses are terrible or that women have

glass ceilings and at times even glass cliffs. The use of the phrase “she is shattering the glass ceiling” is a popular term used to describe the pioneering of women and minorities into spheres they historically could not engage in. However there is now a new phenomenon which is referred to as glass cliffs. Glass cliffs are when women are brought in to save the day when organizations have been led to dire situations by their predecessors, often men.

To break these biases is to make it common place to have women in the c-suite, in leadership and executive roles. To break these is for it to be normal to have a board or the presidents of the African or European Union. So that when we see women in positions of power we don’t arch our eyebrows in surprise or clap in celebration, it’s another Tuesday because women belong in those seats as much as their male counterparts.

You seem to have some strong connections with Nigeria and Nigerians. Tell us about it.

I have a great affinity for Nigeria. It is my second home. It is the country I have visited the most, with many of my friends and family being Nigerians.  I also have a business here and have my team who grow our business in Nigeria; they are a critical component of our pan-African business’ success. Nigerian fashion, food, music and warm hospitality always leave me feeling reinvigorated. On a personal note Lagos holds a special place in my heart. It is a vibrant city that energises and inspires me.

Going by past events, how would you describe the Nigeria/South Africa relationship in your country?

I believe the relationship between these two countries is not where it could be. South Africa and Nigeria are the two largest economies on the continent and have a responsibility to help shape the Africa of tomorrow. I think the inability to cultivate a brotherhood that hope that tomorrow can be better, which fuels their ambition and drives their work ethic. This inspires me to show up as unapologetically ambitious, comfortably confident and proudly African.

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