Phakama helps women rise in corporate world


    phakama---textThe first graduates from the programme who exceeded the courses expectations. (Image: VWV Group)

    Young businesswomen can expect a boost in their careers that will help to catapult them to greater heights in male-dominated industries, from the Phakama Women’s Academy.

    The academy, a corporate social investment mentoring programme, was opened in the middle of the year by the VWV Group in association with the University of Johannesburg (UJ), AAA School of Advertising and Vega School of Brand Leadership. It aims to help young businesswomen stand their ground in the predominantly male-orientated business world.

    The first 25 young businesswomen picked to participate in the programme, during which they were partnered with leading women in business and marketing, have now completed it.

    Speaking at the launch, Cheryl Carolus, the businesswoman and executive chairperson of Peotona Investments, said: “Much still needs to be done to remove sexism and prejudice when it comes to the promotion of women in the work place. Women have to work so much harder to get the same recognition, including remuneration, than their male counterparts.”

    Her words were echoed by the chief executive of the VWV Group, Koo Govender: “Through this initiative we hope to create a leadership academy to fast-track much needed workplace skills for soon to be graduates in our sector, particularly among women.”


    Phakama means “to rise” in isiZulu and isiXhosa. According to Govender, the transformation of the 25 young women has been incredible to watch. They were all from UJ, the AAA School and Vega.

    “This is an inspired, confident group of young women who are highly motivated to become successful businesswomen at the forefront of the communications industry. These are undoubtedly the future leaders of our industry,” she said.

    Initially seen as a once-off programme, the support from industry and the unexpected success of the students have validated its continuation.

    Areas such as presentation skills, developing your personal brand, CV development, interviewing skills, stress and time management, and personal finance were included in the pilot programme. Each module was intended to help develop skills and confidence in the young women.

    Govender said the most popular modules among the students were CV development and personal branding. The interview skills module was also much enjoyed as good interview skills are often a differentiator between average and successful candidates. In 2015, other relevant modules will be added.

    “The other minor course adjustment is that we want our Phakama students to spend more time with their mentors. The value of mentorship cannot be underestimated in a programme like this. There was incredible knowledge transfer, career guidance and building of self-esteem during these mentee sessions, the significance of which cannot be downplayed,” said Govender.

    “These 25 young women are focused, determined and have their sites firmly set on success. They will be a credit to our industry.”

    They have been encouraged to share what they have learned with other women striving to achieve success.