top of page

Q&A with Lydia Hlongwane

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Lydia Hlongwane, Executive Chair, Managing Director @Imbali Group of Companies

How could you describe your career path in few words?

I always say this to people, especially young enterpreneurs, who are at the beginning of their career journey: I think looking back, I can see how a lot of things I did over the past seven or so years make sense, and helped prepare me for what I am doing now. But at the time, it didn’t really feel like that. I would say more or less everything I have done has had something to do with the intersection of community service, Arts, and enterpreneurship. Those have been the common elements, but it doesn’t feel like there was a clear linear path. It was just like, okay, this is what I am supposed to do now and this is great, and that led to something else, which led to something else. A lot of it was about the type communities I met along the way, the professional relationships I built, and the passions that deepened through the things I was doing. I started working at the age of 20 while doing my 3rd year of university for our metropolitan municipality in Pretoria as an intern then became a contracted employee until the year after my graduation. This happened because I had to, not because I chose to but as it unfolded I realized that it was the only way I could learn certain skills when coming to dealing with community members and other employees below me. When I moved to Capitec Bank, I had no idea what I was doing but I needed a job at the time after moving into a new town but looking at it now it was meant to be part of the long list of lessons I had to learn. Then in 2012 I met up with an unforseen circumstance that left me unable to walk, with Drs Still confused I decided to keep myself busy and that is when the enterpreneural journey began. I and two friends had an idea and R600 that my mom gave us to register our company. As scary as it was, it was the birth of I. C. A. R. E. Organisation and Imbali Group Of Companies followed two years later.That is to say, the journey to where I am was not easy journey, it had mistakes, it had a lot of learning and unlearning of many things but it was all part of the journey.

What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?

I think like the rest of the world the most challenging experience was having to deal with the changes that the covid_19 pandemic came with as unexpected as it came.The Covid_19 pandemic found most of us unprepared for it, we had prepared for natural disasters but not this particular one. I remember having to change our school interaction sessions and tutoring classes for our beneficiaries to online interactions that became a challenge for us, the parents, shelters and the education department. Having to rely on internet to have interactions online and courier services to ensure our girls receive toiletries, oxygen cylinders and their monthly checkups became a haunting moment for me especially because I know I can rely on my team and now that happen. The whole experience made me realize that as a leader you need to be open minded and adapt to change as it comes but to also ask for help where you do not understand anything. The whole pandemic really showed me that we need each other to exist and Excell in our respective careers.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

I am one person who believes that uncertainty is all around us, even so more in the Era we are living in. Whether it concerns a global pandemic, the economy, or my business, finances, and relationships, much of what lies ahead in life remains uncertain. Yet as people, we need certainty. We want to be at ease and have a sense of control over our lives and that which concerns us. Fear and uncertainty used to leave me feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless over the direction life seem to be taking us after the pandemic but not now. Now am at the point where I think of solutions and ask for help if am uncertain about something. I think the reason I went for an accountability partner was so I could pick his brain in such times. I always think, what would he do if he was in my shoes therefore makes it easier to actually sit down and think before acting. It is always good as an entrepreneur to learn that not every situation needs an immediate reaction and not all unexpected things are bad, sometimes what we deem unexpected can happen for our own good or the good of our businesses. As a leader of any business, if you panic or act hastily not only does it have a possibility of affecting the company's performance but the employees of your company. Emotions never get to make me make decisions in a heat of a moment therefore breath, think then decide.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager?

All leaders, whether male or female must be confident, and have a persevering spirit in them, but above all else, be adaptable to situations in the workplace. Be teacheable, have great listening skills and do not be afraid of asking for help, it will not define you as a failure. Every work environment and position will have its own unique set of demands, and those demands will continue to evolve as our technology, and the need of your clients do. Female leaders need to be able to point out changes that are happening around the world and use them to their advantage. They possess the same traits as their male counterparts but need to constantly remind themselves that they deserve a leadership sit as much as any other leader does.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page