Dudu Phoswa still remembers her high-school principal, and attributes much of her success to the values he instilled in his pupils at school in Ogwini Comprehensive Technical High School in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal. “He instilled in us a love and respect for education, which encouraged me to take every opportunity to learn,” says Phoswa.
Today, years down the line, Phoswa is busy studying towards completing her fourth degree, while also fulfilling the role of Acting Sector Development and Transformation Executive at the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA).
In South Africa, where women hold just 32% of executive positions, Phoswa believes that being encouraged early on in your life has a massive impact on your career trajectory: “My love for education was greatly encouraged by my grandparents. They were not formally educated, but they were self-made entrepreneurs who instilled values of hard work and dedication in me from a young age.”
Phoswa started her career as a teacher, then achieved her honours in industrial psychology, her MBA, and is now working towards a law degree. This multifaceted experience has prepared her well for her work at the SHRA, where she leverages a multitude of soft skills and hard-hitting business acumen to foster a more inclusive social housing sector. She is also working on creating policies that aid women and youth to enter the sector and become leaders of accredited Social Housing Institutes (SHIs).
“Capacity development is critical in the social housing sector. An increase of accredited, successful SHIs means we can achieve greater success in meeting the SHRA’s mandate of providing housing for South Africa’s people. At the same time, there are prominent business opportunities in the sector, which women can leverage. I aim to make SHRA a space where women can reach out for guidance on how to become leaders in the social housing sector. We have initiatives and incubation programmes in the support of this goal,” says Phoswa.
However, she says that for these opportunities to be embraced, women must be determined to take on the challenge. “For this, I encourage parents, teachers, and industry leaders to teach South Africa’s children that there is nothing they can’t do, if they have the attitude to seek knowledge. We must instil our youth with the understanding that they can do anything they put their minds to, if they are prepared to work for it,” concludes Phoswa.