The Businesswomen’s Association (BWA) is the biggest organisation of organised businesswomen in South Africa.  The Cape Town branch, one of the biggest branches of the organisation with just over a 300-strong membership, last year elected a new leadership, which is led by Chairperson Lerato PA Mgidlana. She is the first black African to be elected to the position.

Originally trained as a lawyer, she has served as Head of the Legal Unit of a municipal union, and later, enjoyed a management career in organisations such as Medscheme, Group 5 and Sita. With a strong CV, leading the BWA comes naturally to Mgidlana.

In her role at the helm of the BWA in Cape Town, she will be assisted by a committee of 18 in executing a strategic plan that includes growing the membership. “We have a database that includes both members and non-members. We plan to convert at least 30% of the subscribers into members within the next 12 months,” she says. The membership of the branch is a mix of women working both in the private and public sectors,and entrepreneurs.

Also high on her list is the financial sustainability of the branch. “A high-impact programme coupled with strong strategic partnerships will be the foundation on which we will build the growth,” adds Mgidlana.

By virtue of her position, Mgidlana serves on the national Operations Committee, which is one of the Board Committees of the national BWA.

She joined the BWA in 1999 while still residing in Gauteng, to “join the organised voice of women in business”.  Mgidlana will hold her new position for the next four-and-a-half years.

Her time at the Federation of Municipal Health and Allied Workers’ Union, where she was the chief negotiator during salary negotiations with employers, motivated her to pursue studies in HR and organisational development. This enabled her to specialise in change management design and implementation and performance management systems development. Mgidlana (45) has over 15 years’ experience as a Management Consultant and an Executive.

Throughout her career, Mgidlana has made a huge investment in people. “I pride myself on my ability to propel people to develop themselves and strive for better. I can proudly say that none of the people whole held positions of being my PA or other subordinate roles, are still in those roles. They are in managerial positions or they are running their own businesses,” she adds.

Mgidlana has had a successful corporate career, while embarking on entrepreneurial ventures.  She started her management consulting firm PAL & Associates Management Consulting in 2000. “Some 10 years ago, I rebranded and repositioned the brand to Prugen Management Consulting under Prugen Investment Holdings, which also has Prugen Properties and Travel and Prugen Corporate Gifts & Events as subsidiaries,” she says.

Interestingly, some of her clients asked her to stay on. One such client was the Johannesburg Development Agency, where she was a resident consultant, but was then asked to stay on and fill the HR Manager vacancy. She resigned from the post to relocate to Cape Town.