Winnie Kunene has carved a successful career working for large corporations, banks, foundations and non-governmental organisations - locally and internationally. She is a founding member of Classic FM South Africa and a non-executive director of MBD Credit Solutions. Above all, however, she is passionate about her mission: to inspire, teach and equip responsive South Africans with practical skills to review their own debt which enslaves them, and get rid of it for good.
What did you study and what has been your career path thus far?
At school I took subjects like Home Economics, History and Biology because I was told I was going to be a domestic. This was despite performing extremely well in Accounting during my matric year. However, I refused to let my destiny be shaped by other people, and went on to study Finance and Management at Wits University before going on to complete a Senior Executive Programme at Harvard Business School in Boston USA.
My career path has also been an interesting one. I have done everything that involves running a business including; working at reception, filing, making tea, IT support, secretary, administration, finance office, manager, managing director and director. Further to this, I used the money skills that I learnt from my dad to run my own enterprise from a young age.
What would you say the highlight of your job is?
It would definitely be talking to people about their finances and mobilising them to take action when it comes to their financial future. However, while I enjoy familiarising myself with ’numbers’, I don’t enjoy them quite like accountants do.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that’s helped you in your career?
My boss always lived the message "do unto others what you would have them do to you" which really demonstrates the principle of fairness and is something I always strive towards.
What would you say it takes to succeed as a woman in finance?
Determination, resilience, courage, honesty with one’s self and hard work. Being dependable is a quality very much associated with finance, and is therefore a critical skill to have.
There is a perception that the finance sector can be a bit of a "boys club" - would you say you have experienced this stereotype to be true in any way in your career?
This is definitely a boy’s club, for sure. But I have never used that to limit me and, instead, I always encourage women to find their unique space in which to excel. I love to teach, so finance has given me a good reason to want to teach and inspire others.
What tips would you give to those entering the finance world?
First off, I would say you need to enjoy what you do, else get out of it - it’s not worth the misery; this applies across the board but particularly in the cut-throat finance world. Then there’s the importance of not trying to be someone you are not - don’t compete with others but rather just do your work well and carve out an individual niche for yourself. Last but by no means least, be fair and dependable at all times.
WANT MORE ’FEMMES IN FINANCE’? READ HERE:
Economist At Citibank - Gina Schoeman | Technical Analyst - Moxima Gama | Client Manager at Incompass Financial Solutions - Anja Du Plessis | Retail Client Service Consultant at Coronation Fund Managers - Kylie Janse van Vuuren | Equity Analyst at Avior Capital Markets - Janine van Wyk | Fund Analyst and Investment Specialist at Amity Wealth - Roné Venter | Private Wealth Manager at NFB Private Wealth Management - Mikayla Collins | Head of Strategic Markets at Allan Gray - Thandi Ngwane | Head of Direct Marketing Strategy at African Bank - Rachel Murove | CEO Of Africa Unity Life - Sonja Visser | Head of Financial Life Planning at Chartered Wealth Solutions - Kim Potgieter
Nicole Cameron is a features writer with over twelve years’ experience, focusing primarily on the business market with a niche focus on entrepreneurship. She has written on a variety of topics for Sharenet and is excited to be focusing on women in finance in her new monthly column "Femmes in Finance". She holds a Business Science degree from UCT and is passionate about reporting on the events and people that make up the local business landscape.