Educational advice and lessons learned from exceptional women
09 June 2019
Inspirational women who've been through Investec's various education programmes share the lessons they've learnt.
7 min read
Finance Executive, Bud Industrial Services, Midrand
A waiter at Wimpy
Your top tip to young women graduates looking to enter the working world?
Carry yourself with confidence, even in intimidating situations.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received about your career?
Do what makes you happy and make an effort to meet new people all the time.
What book are you reading?
Steinheist by Rob Rose
Madelein grew up in Vereeniging in a single parent, mother-run household. After finishing school at Hoërskool Overvaal, she was awarded a tertiary education bursary with Investec, which helps young South Africans with academic potential to study towards financial sector-related degrees at various local universities.
After graduating with a BCom from North-West University, Madelein then joined Investec, where she completed her CA. She talks to us about the value of education, the rewards of working hard, and the advice she’d give her high school self.
My mom taught us so much – more through leading by example than actually telling us what to do, which I think is much more powerful. She’s a strong, selfless, independent woman who never stops helping others, including strangers. She also taught us that money is a 'nice-to-have' but you’re still capable of anything regardless. She always encouraged us to meet people, make friends, and most importantly to learn, without anything holding you back.
The involvement of corporates like Investec is making a powerful change, but this is mostly with post-school students trying to get a degree. I think more should be done by government, private companies, and even individuals to ensure kids get a good education from grade one, or even earlier. It’s the basic fundamentals that make a huge difference.
My mom works as an administrative officer for the Department of Education. She only got her matric, so I was the first person in my family to go to university.
Education opens doors: it enables you to do things and go places that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
I was able to get funding through loans and bursaries and secure employment at one of the most attractive employers in South Afri
Work hard, do what makes you happy and surround yourself with people who know how to be happy for you.
When I applied for the Investec bursary through Study Trust and went through a week of interviews, I was completely blown away. The people I met all loved their jobs and couldn’t stop speaking about their love for the place – it quickly caught on. That’s when I decided: I’m not only going to get a bursary with Investec, I’m also going to work for them one day.
Accounting isn’t for everyone, but it definitely suits me and my personality: I’m a perfectionist and I’ve always loved numbers. There are so many careers out there where you can be happy – never do something because someone told you to, or just because it pays well. If you don’t love what you do, chances are you won’t perform well at all.
I think a bit of both. I was very protected and not exposed to the threats of the real world, the power of social media, nor the levels of crime we see elsewhere. It also made me a little ignorant compared to kids from the best schools who grew up with dinner table conversations about stocks and the markets, currencies, or politics… they were miles ahead of me in terms of “talking the talk”. But in a way, it also made me feel confident in who I am and what I’m capable of, without comparing myself to anyone else.
As a finance executive at Bud Industrial Services, I do everything from basic accounting for head office to big consolidations of subsidiaries. Every day brings something new, and I get to learn on the job. My managers are truly incredible and are invested in seeing me learn, develop and grow.
Yes, mentors play a very special role in your life, through both the good and challenging times. My mom has always been my biggest fan and mentor, as well as always giving me an honest opinion and being a solid sounding board. But you need more than one mentor in every stage in life. For example, your sporty friend can be your mentor to keep you fit and healthy, but a religious leader might help you navigate relationships. Never put a limit on who and where you learn from.
Networking. I find that constantly meeting new people and being in conversation with friends and colleagues is a great way to know what’s happening – even more so than trying to read the endless amounts of information published by universities and other academic bodies.
Stop caring what people say and stop worrying about what they think. Work hard, do what makes you happy and surround yourself with people who know how to be happy for you. There is a place in the sun for everyone. Women are often guilty of this – we think that if another woman succeeds, we have failed. We need to embrace ourselves and each other.