“I think that by the time you actually finish your MBA you have a more philanthropic mentality than just wanting to make the big bucks.”
Profile: Ntshediseng Sibeko
She professes to be a quiet introvert from a “small dorpie on the East Rand” (Springs), but her bubbly laugh and chatty personality tell a different story.
“Ntshediseng is an absolute delight. She has an absolutely wonderful sense of compassion, and humour,” says Wendy Groenewald, Executive PA at WDB Investment Holdings (WDBIH).
Ntshediseng Sibeko joined the company as an Investment Manager in September 2019 and quickly became part of the all-women WDBIH family.
She has an interesting and diverse career behind her. Before joining WDBIH, Ntshediseng worked as an Associate at Sanlam Private Equity, where she was responsible for the origination, evaluation and implementation of prospective investments, as well as the post-investment management of portfolio assets. She represented Sanlam Private Equity on the boards of Thebe Investment Corporation, Metrofibre Networx, Weldamax and BMFI. Before that, she worked as a Senior Investment Associate at the National Empowerment Fund (NEF) as a transactor in the SME fund. It was during her time at the NEF that her career intersected her calling – to make a difference in the lives of others and make South Africa a better place.
She comes from a humble upbringing – her father is a teacher by profession and her mother is a nurse. Her parents weren’t keen on her pursuing a career in either teaching or medicine, but education has always been important in her family. Ntshediseng holds a BCom in Accounting from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
A Philanthropic Mentality
She says, “While doing my MBA I got exposed to a lot of c-suite executives. I was pretty young at the time. I was 27, in this room with 50-year-olds who are CEOs, MDs and Chairmen of various organisations.”
She says she made some great friendships doing her MBA and created some very strong networks, but her studies also had an impact on her future career.
“I think that by the time you actually finish your MBA you have a more philanthropic mentality than just wanting to make the big bucks. You really come out on the other side wanting to make South Africa a better place for everyone.”
Landing up at WDB, felt like it was meant to be for Ntshediseng. She says she immediately felt the chemistry with the WDB team of “like-minded individuals”.
“Working with an all-women team is refreshing,” she says, “We are all there for the same purpose, to create sustainability for the WDB Trust, and with that the impact filters through, because the Trust is then able to pursue the programmes that they do and continue to make an impact.”
For Ntshediseng, joining WDB was a great ride from the beginning, until “the Universe” threw the Covid-19 curve-ball no-one saw coming.
“I was the newbie and I thought I would relax and slowly work my way into the company and settle after a few months. There was none of that. They were like, we are a small team, all hands on deck,” she says, “So we were working from day one. Then comes March (2020) and the President announces the lockdown. I think the rest of the world had already been going through this, but we as South Africans, given that you haven’t had your first case, you are thinking that life is okay. But the minute it hits home, the reality sinks in.”
“We are all there for the same purpose, to create sustainability for the WDB Trust, and with that the impact filters through, because the Trust is then able to pursue the programmes that they do and continue to make an impact.”
Weathering the Storm
She says the “new normal” under Covid-19 not only hit home on a personal level, but from a financial perspective too – the markets were also hit hard. Having been through the global financial crisis when she was still relatively young, Ntshediseng says it’s very important for businesses to stand their ground.
“When you look at the impact of the coronavirus across businesses and across sectors – how many people have lost their jobs, how many businesses have had to fold and, from a financial services perspective, how people’s books have been impacted. There are certain firms that won’t exist after this is over. At WDBIH we have been fortunate enough to weather the storm and I think it is through the leadership as well as how the portfolio was positioned.
“The fortunate thing about working with women is – and we get a lot of flak for this – that we are really more conservative than the guys. How WDB had managed its portfolio was also quite conservative, which in this instance, helped us weather the storm. From a WDB perspective, I think that element has come through and saved the business.”
On a personal level, Ntshediseng is upbeat and positive, but says she is very honest about the fact that she has days when the reality of life hits home.
Her husband – who happens to be in the ICT sector predominantly servicing the hospitality and retail industry – and son (six years old) are at home, and she finds the juggle of home and work life quite challenging at times.
“Following the lockdown, we had to convert to home-schooling. I was never cut out for that, so we are all just winging it, trying to make the most of it, and it has been challenging. In as much as the parents have complained, now I have to juggle work and home schooling. I think the shock has been more on the kids because now their worlds have changed.”
She says having her son cooped up in a house with two stressed adults is also not ideal, but she is doing her best to help the family with the transition, and taking care of her mental health is key.
“The fortunate thing about working with women is – and we get a lot of flak for this – that we are really more conservative than the guys. How WDB had managed its portfolio was also quite conservative, which in this instance, helped us weather the storm.”
“It has been a matter of juggling, but we all try our best and there are days when everything works great and days when it doesn’t and that’s also okay. I’m one of those people: if it’s working, it’s working great; if it’s not, just take a step back, take a deep breath and just try again. There is no point in wallowing and being hard on yourself over something that is new to everyone. If you are trying your best, and it’s not working out, then it is what it is.”
She says it’s important to acknowledge that one is not alone during this time of uncertainty, and she says focusing on gratitude is really helpful.
“What you need to start realising is that other people are having the very same struggles as you are and there are others who are far worse off. People lost their jobs and their lives have been negatively impacted. So, I sit here with full-time employment, with a roof over my head and we have a meal every night. It also puts things into perspective and I need to be grateful!”
Hopes and Dreams
She is hopeful for the future and is excited about her future possibilities within the company.
“At WDBIH, we are pursuing a new fund that has a gender focus. It’s all about making an impact on women – which is very close to my heart. There may be opportunities to grow within the business. The common narrative is that we are all humans and humanity needs to flow through, not based on race, not based on gender, just the fact that there’s another human being across from me and what I can do to make their life better.”