Interviewed and edited by Edinah Masanga
Dr. Wendy Luhabe is one of Africa’s most decorated women academically but also one of the most successful professionally. She graduated with a B.Comm 36 years ago and became one of the first black women to qualify in commerce in South Africa and has never looked back since. She now holds 4 Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Fort Hare (her alma mater), Stellenbosch, Durban Technology and recently University of KZN.
Dr. Luhabe, I feel very honored to be able to interview you but I must say, I’m very curious to know, what does it feel like at the top?
It depends on what one does with the opportunities given to them. I mentor many young people, both men and women to find their magnificence. For me it does not feel any different, I have not been changed by my achievements. I use them to inspire others to do more, to realize that it is possible for Women to Rise. That we are as capable as anyone else. That we have a role to play.
I know that most women role models keep saying that it is possible for women to rise but what practical advice would you give to women who are trying to climb their way up the ladder?
They must invest in themselves, get to know what they are capable of and what makes them come alive. They must never settle for less. They must not allow anyone to tell them they can’t and they must surround themselves with people who are wise and who inspire them, stretch them and challenge them to travel the road less traveled. They must read and never stop learning.
‘They must never settle for less.’ God, I love that but in this environment in which men are viewed as superior, that can be a daunting task. So let me ask this now, have you ever had to deal with sexism in the workplace or life?
Yes, I worked in a company where the manager would not let me interview for a position. He said I was not ready and did me the biggest favor of my life because I resigned and started my first business called Bridging the Gap to prepare black graduates for the Corporate environment.
What an inspiring turning point. Have you mentored or supported women during the course of your career or life?
I mentor both men and women because I believe that we all need to be encouraged in order to reach for the stars. We need someone to think with us when we have to take important decisions in life. We need people to believe in us.
I follow you on social media and I see that as much as you are very educated you are also very spiritual as a Christian. How important is spirituality in a woman’s life?
Education only equips us to build a career, we need other intelligences to cope with life.
We need social intelligence to build relationships with others. We need spiritual intelligence to honor the kind of values that build us as women and a people. I would say of all the intelligence, spiritual intelligence is the most important because it builds our character, integrity, and authenticity.
I am more than inspired Dr. Luhabe but we have to end here, what else must we know about you?
My work with women is my ministry and I am passionate about the participation of women and their ascension to leadership roles.
Dr. Luhabe has been married for almost 23 years and loves to travel. She is a grandmother of 3, has 1 brother and two sisters.