Partnering with women in business

Investing in women on the rise

Women on the rise in business
Investec’s Ruth Leas joins ranks of world’s top 2%

Only *2% of bank chiefs worldwide are women, according to an IMF 2017 report. Meet Ruth Leas, the South African who’s been designated as the new chief executive officer of Investec Bank plc.


Ruth is scheduled to take over later this year as CEO of Investec Bank plc, the main banking subsidiary of FTSE 250-listed Investec plc.


Ruth, a 47-year-old mother of three who hails from South Africa, is currently Investec Bank plc’s chief risk officer.


*Most recent figures at the time of publishing.

Meet Investec Bank plc, CEO-designate, Ruth Leas

In this podcast with Investec Focus, Ruth talks about her journey, the people who inspired her, and why she’s never felt out of place in a boardroom.
Ruth Leas
Ruth Leas, CEO-designate, Investec Bank plc.

Don’t look at being a woman as a disadvantage. It’s actually a major advantage and one should take this on and use it.

Fast facts


  • BA cum laude (Wits)
  • Hons Economics
  • MPhil Cantab (Cambridge)

Work experience

  • Started at Investec in 1998
  • 21 years at Investec

Favourite quote

"...continual becoming, never being..."

(Schopenhauer, referencing Plato)

CEO recognises that Investec has some way before equality is reached

According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap report, South Africa has for two years in a row managed to retain the 19th spot out of 144 countries assessed. 

Fani Titi, Investec Group Co-CEO, says, “It’s encouraging to see South Africa in the top 20 of a global report of this nature, but we must acknowledge that South Africa and Investec have some way to go.


"The state of workplace gender equality, diversity and inclusion has far-reaching effects on everything from employee wellness and retention, to innovation and business outcomes, to real connections with our clients. It’s undoubtedly something organisations must view with utmost importance.”


“To this end, various programmes form part of Investec’s gender agenda. We are proud to announce that we have created more opportunities for women to be in more senior positions and higher levels within the organisation."

Celebrating Investec women

Rufaida Ismail

Nonhlanhla Mayisela

Farieza Essop

Candice Gilbert

"We are particularly proud of our employee initiatives around talent mobility, full-scale wellness, more flexible-working patterns, employee empowerment and better recognition mechanisms. We believe this will go a long way towards retaining talent, especially women who are looking to find more balance."

Investec is equally invested in women from broader communities, whether in the classroom or sports field. The bank is committed to numerous education, mentorship and sports programmes that help unlock brilliance, amplify confidence, and support the economy.

Women in business

Investec is partnering with women on the rise to the top of the business world. Here some of the company's leading ladies share their expert insights on the issues they deal with every day in the workplace.


From a senior aviation finance consultant to the head of digital, these dynamic Investec women in business have inspiring life and career journeys.

Nonhlanhla Mayisela, CEO, Izandla Property, powered by Investec Property and Investec Property Fund

Ensuring meaningful and equitable representation in the property industry

Nkateko Mathonsi, Deputy head of research, Investec SA

Breaking the glass ceiling in mining and engineering.


Advice from women in business

Annabel Bishop, Chief economist, Investec SA

"Just get on and do it. High quality deliverables speak for you, it makes gender irrelevant."

Zintathu Nqweni, Head of institutional sales FICC flow, Investec SA

"Stay true to who you are. Show up as your true authentic self. Walk your own path. Create your own story. There’s no one else like you. That’s your superpower."

Michelle Raw, Legal advisor for specialised finance, Investec SA

"When an opportunity arises, make an informed decision and then take the bull by the horns and don’t give up!"

Maxine Gray, strategic project manager, Investec Wealth & Investment SA

"One of the most important things in life, and at work, is to know your worth and what you stand for and to never let perceptions hold you back. Take a risk, it might just pay off."

Kifesha Singh, Team leader, Private Banking SA

"The world will respect and value you, once you respect and value yourself. Navigate life with humility, authenticity and a comfortable level of vulnerability… you will succeed!"

Niki van Wyk, Company secretarial, Investec SA

"I live by a Richard Branson quote: ‘If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes then learn how to do it later'."

Rufaida Ismail, Head of payments, Investec SA

Fill up the room. Claim your space.

Makoena Mabusela, Aviation finance consultant, Investec SA

Using her success to positively impact others

More inspiration from Investec women on the rise

Melanie Humphries, Regional head Pretoria, Investec SA

"I have learned to let go of my 'working mom' guilt – my son’s class prefer Woolworths cupcakes to home-baked gluten-free ones."

Soraya Theron, Settlements, Investec SA

"It does not matter who you are or where you come from, the ability to triumph begins with you” (Oprah)

Marle van der Walt, CFO Investec SA

"The most valuable lesson I have learnt over the years is to surround yourself with good people and then to trust them."

Kathryn Farndell, Head of compliance, Investec SA

"Often you’re the only one getting in your way. Tenacity pays off, stay with it."

Shabhana Thaver, Head of central services IT, Investec SA

"Having my KZN colours in Karate drives my fearless attitude. Being resilient will strengthen the ‘force’ within you!"

Kerry Otto, Head of business transformation and integration, Investec SA

"Find someone in our business that you really admire and learn from them. Having regular feedback and support has helped me immensely."

Devina Maharaj, Head of digital, Investec SA

Bringing business sense to the world of technology

Alexandra Nortier, Joint head, Wealth Management SA

Embracing women being women 

Phangisile Sibeko, CSI consultant, Investec SA

"A powerful woman is not made to fit in but rather destined to stand out. So go ahead, unleash your inner beast and show the world who you are and what you're capable of."

Unathi Boniwe, Head of brand, Private Banking SA

"As nurturers we should learn to lift others as we rise so as to create a strong network of independent and hard-working women"

Nicola Rowbotham, Head of technology and operations, Investec Life

"Too often as women we feel that failure is the opposite of success. It's not, rather it's part of success."

Robyn Watermeyer, finance consultant, Structured Property SA

"Get up, get out there and make a difference wherever you are. Network. Graft. Be present.  Own your space. Move and be moved, but most of all, be humble and remain positive."

Candice Gilbert, Head of marketing, Investec Life

Learning life lessons from competitive sport

Farieza Essop, Investment executive, Khulasande Capital

Harnessing the power of change

Celebrating Investec women

Devina Maharaj

Makoena Mabusela

Alexandra Nortier

Insights from Investec Focus

Women on the rise

Read more inspirational stories from women who have gone through Investec's various education and sporting initiatives.