Remember how people of prestige used to be described as ‘movers and shakers,’ or a ‘wo/man of timbre and calibre?’ Those are the phrases that come to mind as I attempt to capture the essence of Gugu Msibi; such a cute name, no?
Well the bearer ain’t just a cute face; in 2011, she was recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, and she also made the Forbes’ 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa list. In 2012, she was named amongst the World’s top 100 Dynamic Women by Arise magazine in the business and law category; Africa is chockfull of amazing people. Of her awards, she says “It is really a huge honour every time I receive such recognition. This illustrates that all the work done is not in vain but has a direct impact on people. As a woman in a leadership role, I believe it is part of my responsibilities to mentor the young women around me and assist in grooming future African leaders.’
Gugu who holds a BA (Journalism and Economics) from Durban University of Technology, a Management Advanced Programme (MAP) from Wits Business School and an MBA from Bond University in Australia, is Head of Strategy & Public Affairs; a senior partner at Ernst & Young- a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services– and her role includes advising government ministers across the continent, particularly in Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Gugu started her career as a political journalist at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and a Senior Producer of SAfm radio station. She also spent two years As Head of Broadcast Training at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, (IAJ), which involved training journalists and government media liaison officers on media management. Gugu transited into governance as a Marketing and Communications Executive at the State Information Technology Agency before co-founding a Communication Strategy and Media Management Agency, Spin Media, in 2000.
“So I slowly moved into the corporate world and I left the journalism background but it has always been something that is close to my heart,” Gugu stated in an interview with ‘How we made it in Africa.’ “I still write. I write my own blogs. I am not necessarily operating as a journalist right now but that’s my first love.”
Gugu is a proactive, hands-on person; the kind of person who takes steps to right a perceived wrong and make a difference instead of whingeing about everything. She has been involved in a number of political and social initiatives, such as setting up the South African Trade Union Federation COSATU’s Corruption Watch in 2012.
Gugu Msibi retired from the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) South Africa after serving five years at the helm of the South African Parliament-controlled organisation. She was praised by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa her ‘dedication and contribution in promoting an enabling environment for media development and diversity.’ He equally stated that she had “contributed not only towards transforming media access, ownership and control patterns in our country, but also that our citizens are able to access information in a language of their choice.”
Gugu’s mantra is ‘get involved in what is going on around you,’ a message she specifically sends to the women of Africa. She states “I’ve just found that the voices of women, in our time in Africa, are just conspicuously quiet and that concerns me. I pose that question to myself as well because you can’t point fingers and say, ‘this and this is not happening’. You know, you are supposed to question; if not us, then who? So I would say we all need to get involved.”
How do you intend to get involved in your community today? The world’s greatest leaders got involved! They sought solutions for the majority and not just for themselves. Think.