Married with three kids, sounds like a dead-end for a career-driven woman but not for Kgabo Secwebu of Hummingbird Professional Consulting. A certified BAP (SA) and member of IoDSA (Institute of Directors), she grew up in Limpopo, then moved to Johannesburg to further her studies in accounting at Wits University (where she obtained a BCom degree), did her post-grad certificate at the University of Kwazulu Natal and then a post-degree management programme at the University of Pretoria.
Kgabo is a member of Saiba and as part of our women’s month campaign we sat down with her to hear her story.
Having worked in different industries (education, construction and finance), she decided to start her own accounting practice. She was motivated to achieve success in business by the ups and downs she had witnessed in her grandfather’s business exploits. And she’s being running her own practice since 2011.
Climbing the corporate ladder: her biggest achievement was being offered a CFO position in one of the companies she worked for before starting her own practice. Five years after leaving the company, she was not only appointed CFO but also asked to join the board of directors as the only black woman. She believes that hard work, mutual respect and reputation earned her this opportunity.
Apart from being a businesswoman, Kgabo lends a helping hand to Itshomeleng multipurpose club, a foundation for the elderly founded by her late grandmother many years ago. She started by offering to balance their books and donating parcels and blankets every year to commemorate her grandmother’s passing. She then fell in love with their way of preserving their heritage and indigenous practices, as this reminded her of her grandmother. This grounded who she is and where she comes from. She applied her financial knowledge to the foundation and helped them receive more funding, and in this way continued to help more grandmothers.
When asked what advice she had for women, she had this to say: “Women should stay true to themselves; have faith in what you do; appreciate the fact that success takes long; that mistakes happen but stand ‘tall’ and go forward. Running your race at your own pace leads you to success. Success is not instant but be yourself and focus. You will achieve your goals.”
Having a mentor is another piece of advice she has for young women. “Looking up to someone with virtues such as bravery and respect will help you establish yourself as a woman. Women are born to be nurturers therefore sticking with each other helps them grow and empower one another in a greater way than any other person can.”
Kgabo is a firm believer in reputation, originality and the spirit of giving. These are the qualities she learned from her grandmother, lived by them and she wishes to see young women adopting these principles to help them find their way and succeed.
Since the beginning of her practice, she adapted to a simpler way of working that meant not having to service clients from an office. Instead, her practice serves the client at the comfort of their own office/home. A few years into her practice, after losing client data due to unforeseen circumstances, Kgabo adopted web-based programmes to help her run her practice more efficiently without running the risk of losing client data. This has helped her business during this Covid-19 pandemic, and had little impact on her practice and her employees. It helps that she has embraced technological tools and employs young people who champion new technologies.
As a black woman, a wife and a mother, she is very much involved in women’s stokvel clubs where she shares her knowledge and discusses issues such as marriage. She is willing to share her experiences and motivate other women to achieve their very best.
We can all agree that our communities need more women like Kgabo, women who are driven and determined to succeed.
by Ludzula Mukhuwana