Basani Maluleke: making the CEO ceiling shatter

Basani Maluleke is goals and paving the way for black women in South Africa

Appointed as African Bank’s CEO earlier this year, Maluleke (40) has been tasked with returning the bank to profitability and transforming it from a micro-lender to a fully-fledged mainstream transactional bank.

She plans to turn the bank into the next industry disruptor that will take on Capitec.

Maluleke is an admitted attorney with over 10 years experience in the financial services sector, having held senior roles in blue chip firms such as Edward Nathan Friedland, Rand Merchant Bank and several FNB divisions.

Drawing on her wealth of experience in the corporate world, Maluleke shares her pearls of wisdom for women to succeed in business.

Don’t try to be a man, be authentically you

Instead of trying to fit in with the boys club in the workplace, just focus on being your authentic self.

The Big Swinging Dick (BSD) was the award to aspire to and I also wanted to get it. I spent a lot of time trying to be like a man, and it didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t be successful. My feeling is that we need to create more spaces where we can have gender equality – changing the structure of business so that it accommodates women

Talk less and listen more

Maluleke is a firm believer in a personal coach, who she says offers invaluable insights about yourself that you might not be aware of and character traits that could potentially become a barrier to your success one day.

The one thing my personal coach told me was that I was trying too hard to come off as intelligent. What he told me is that in reality people don’t like that, they think you are a smart ass! It’s important to do more listening and less talking

Failure is inevitable, embrace it

All too often women let the fear of failure hold them back, but Maluleke says this is the worst reaction to have.

We are afraid because we are afraid we will fail. But sometimes failure is unavoidable; it happens. If we fail, then we just pick ourselves up and go again

On choosing a mentor

One of the most common mistakes people make when approaching a potential mentor has to do with specificity; they are too vague. They have a general idea of what they want, but are not too clear about it. You always have to be clear about what you want to achieve so that the mentor knows what to give you