We asked dynamic go-getters for their tips on reaching the top in their careers and staying there. 

There’s no single secret to success, but advice from those who have made it can make a mountain look more like a molehill. Fortunately, there are people willing to share some of their secrets!

Many movers and shakers credit much of their success to the mentors from whom they learnt – people who allowed them to tag along while they worked, giving them the opportunity to get first-hand experience in the field and learn the tricks of the trade in real life. Judi Nwokedi, chief operations officer of southern Africa’s largest integrated tourism group, Tourvest, says mentorship steers you in the right direction when it comes to your career. Having a mentor, she says, means you learn from their successes and mistakes while growing your own skills and experience. ‘If I could choose any mentor I liked right now it would be (deceased Apple founder) Steve Jobs,’ she says. ‘He was a genius. The Apple universe he created works for me.’ Nwokedi says drawing on past experiences is also key to success. Back in 1999, she founded the HIV-prevention non-profit loveLife. Her experience with that gave her a solid grounding for her current work as non-executive chairperson of the nationwide Aids Consortium based in Johannesburg.

Gary Shap is chief executive officer of Tudortech, leading sales, marketing and distribution company that sells photographic and electronic goods across Africa. He says reading about other success stories keeps him inspired. ‘I like reading autobiographies of businesspeople and entrepreneurs,’ he says. ‘ They make you realise that nothing comes easily and there is no substitute for hard work – and even those people you admire have made mistakes along the way. I recently read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.’ Shap says he also takes a few moments every morning to reflect on his goals. ‘My morning meditation ritual keeps me focused and helps me gain perspective on what I’m doing and why. It’s this meaning and sense of purpose that truly motivates me.’


Award-winning filmmaker Nadine Cloete networks with her contemporaries as a source of inspiration. Just this year, she travelled to international lm festivals in Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. ‘Attending film festivals keeps me motivated. Exchanging war stories and celebrating with other filmmakers is so important,’ she says. ‘ This year I met Nigerian filmmaker Joseph A Adesunloye in Sweden. We spent hours talking about African cinema.’ Spreading your wings and meeting as many people in your field as possible opens up opportunities you would never otherwise have. Cloete says she also loves spending free time with family and friends, as much as she values quiet time on her own, which gives her a chance to reflect and reconnect with her inner self.

Author Barbara Boswell is doing a lot of travelling to promote her latest novel, Grace, in addition to teaching in the English department at Wits University. So much activity can be exhausting if your body isn’t used to working hard, and she manages the heavy workload by keeping fit. ‘I visit the gym regularly,’ she says. ‘I do yoga and cardio, because being active keeps my body healthy and my mind alert. I think more clearly when I have a good exercise routine, and also handle stress much more productively. Spreading your wings and meeting as many people in your field as possible opens up opportunities you would never otherwise have.

Motivating sayings or chants known as mantras can help keep you going when times are tough.

Nwokedi leans on famous writer Maya Angelou’s words:
‘Nothing will work unless you do.’

Cloete borrows a line from American singer Beyoncé: ‘A winner don’t quit on themselves.’

Shap turns to American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson who said: What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pale in comparison to what lies inside you.’

Barbara Boswell says she is inspired as a writer by South African-born, Botswana-based writer Bessie Head, who said: ‘I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.’

CAREER TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS CAREER TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on January 01, 2018 Rating: 5
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