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Investment Views

Q&A with Phelisa Ngonyama

14 February 2019
What do you love about your job?

Dealing with clients makes my role dynamic. Each day is different with different challenges. The ultimate objective of investment management is to guard the savings of members. Knowing that I contribute to that objective is what I like about my job. Being a Client Director means that I am exposed to clients at different stages of their career journey. The conversation in one room can be very technical and very general at the same time. The art is to have the intelligence to know how to pitch a conversation to a diverse audience.

What is the most important career decision you have made?

I grew up wanting to be a doctor and studied physics and maths at school. I ended up in a commerce class at university and that was the best decision I have ever made.

Which one piece of information do people not know about you?

In my next lifetime I want to be a chef. In my spare time I mentor ten young female professionals. I have seen them grow and perform in different sectors. I started mentoring them at different stages in their lives, from selecting grade 10 school subjects to deciding which university to attend. This is the most fulfilling part of my life.

What would you tell your teenage self?

It is okay to have a little chaos in your life. Be present in whatever you do.
Always give your best. Loosen up and have some fun.

What advice would you give someone starting in the industry?

There are no short cuts, so you have to be prepared to work hard but work ‘smart’ and never forget to innovate. Never compromise your individuality – it is okay to be different.
It also doesn’t matter where you start in the value chain. You will end up where you want, but you need to focus. The industry is not for the faint-hearted; it is very rewarding for those who work hard and put in the hours.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

The best advice I received was when I first started in the industry; my mentor said the industry is very competitive and I must find my niche and stick to it. I did exactly that and it has been rewarding.

Who inspires you?

My late parents remain my source of inspiration. They raised seven children and even though they were not educated, they made sure that we were all educated and independent. They had a clear vision that the only thing that would liberate us was education and they worked hard to achieve that. They had limited resources, but they prioritised education. The joke among siblings was that if you wanted dad to buy you new shoes, they had to be black so that he would think they were school shoes. I am also inspired by all the women leaders in the corporate world who can run households and participate meaningfully in boardrooms.

Why is diversity important to you and Investec Asset Management?

Diversity is a business imperative in South Africa. Investec Asset Management needs to truly represent the demographics of the South African population. We also need to be cognisant of the fact that we manage money on behalf of ordinary South African citizens and our business should represent that. If we want to achieve our five-year growth plan in South Africa, transformation should be part of that plan.

Diversity - what do we do well and how can we improve?

Investec Asset Management can attract the best talent in the industry, but retention is key. We have an exceptional global platform, and this should work for our diversity. We have made positive changes to address diversity by having a diversified management committee focusing on the South African business.

Phelisa’s biography

Phelisa is a Client Director within Investec Asset Management’s South African institutional team where she is responsible for a number of institutional client and consultant relationships. Prior to joining the firm, Phelisa was Head of Institutional Business at Sanlam Investment Management where she was responsible for growing and retaining the firm’s third-party institutional business book. Prior to that she was a Client Relationship Manager at Metropolitan Asset Management.

Phelisa graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Commerce degree and was a member of the Management Development Programme. In addition, she has a master’s degree in Financial Management from the University of London and is a Fellow member of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa.



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All information and opinions provided are of a general nature and are not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. We are not acting and do not purport to act in any way as an adviser or in a fiduciary capacity. No one should act upon such information or opinion without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of a particular situation. We endeavour to provide accurate and timely information but we make no representation or warranty, express or implied, with respect to the correctness, accuracy or completeness of the information and opinions. We do not undertake to update, modify or amend the information on a frequent basis or to advise any person if such information subsequently becomes inaccurate. Any representation or opinion is provided for information purposes only.
This document is the copyright of Investec and its contents may not be re-used without Investec’s prior permission. Investec Asset Management (Pty) Limited is an authorised financial services provider. Issued by Investec Asset Management, February 2019.

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