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Manyika: Passionate about leadership

- By Vivienne Rowland

Cool, calm, collected and classy. The last adjective is because Lindiwe Manyika welcomes you into her 9th Floor office in Wits’ Senate House Building wearing a bright fuchsia shawl, belying the cold, grey weather outside.

Manyika’s warmth and passion is evident as she speaks about her work and how she enjoys finding her way around in the academic sphere after decades climbing the corporate ladder.

She took up her position at Wits as the Head: Transformation and Employment Equity in May 2015, a position that excites her because it deals with issues of personal and organisational change. The scope of her role is quite diverse, it focuses on issues of diversity from a demographical point of view, social justice, institutional culture and many other pertinent factors on transformation.  

“I have always been curious about the academic space, I perceive it as an environment where one can grow, develop critical skills and have an opportunity to further higher studies. The culture is completely different, an environment that encourages debate, open discussion and constant enquiry about the wellbeing of staff and students. People are comfortable to speak their minds without fearing a backlash, which is refreshing and contrary to where I come from,” says Manyika.

Manyika, a Soweto born-and-bred, mother of three and a Wits alumnus, has a diverse professional background spanning from developing marketing and sales solutions and transitioning into providing solutions on talent, transformation, including BBBEE and employment equity. The corporate world has been her stomping ground for more than 20 years, which was interspersed with positions in large corporations in different disciplines.

She has a BA degree in Industrial Psychology from Unisa, a Management Advanced Programme qualification from the Wits Business School and an Executive Leadership Development Programme qualification from the Stellenbosch Business School including an executive coaching qualification. Next year she starts her journey to an MBA degree.

Manyika describes herself as a specialist in developing and executing business transformation, employment equity and talent management strategies for large corporations.  She is also an executive coach and a mentor to many young aspiring professionals.  She is passionate about public speaking and this has resulted in numerous invitations to chair and present in conferences and seminars on issues of leadership, talent and transformation.

She has managed and co-ordinated the BBBEE process for multi-national auditing firm Deloitte, gaining excellent knowledge and expertise in driving and managing the legislative requirements to ensure compliance for the organisation and for internal purposes including people and stakeholders. In addition to this, she was also the main Employment Equity Manager for both Deloitte and fuel conglomerate Shell. She has also worked for the banking giant Standard Bank as an Executive Director of Transformation.

Manyika is very clear about her view for her job: “I am very passionate about leadership, and would like to be part of the journey and bring in my expertise in transformation from the corporate sector and I think it could be quite useful here. We need to talk more about transformation and ensure that it is embedded in all facets of the academy. By so doing we will demonstrate that the higher education sector is serious about this issue.”

“Transformation is an arduous and an emotional process to drive and implement within any institution. It therefore requires a mind shift, to be in the hearts and minds of people in order to evolve. It is a journey, not a destination, and hence the transformation graph is not linear but exponential. We have an important task ahead of us to continue transforming the institution. We therefore need to be relentless about our efforts until such time we are comfortable that we have achieved significant milestones in transforming the academy.”

“I personally believe that for transformation to evolve we need everyone in the institution to embrace and take responsibility for driving this agenda regardless of the level of seniority everyone has a duty to participate and make a difference. My vision is to see transformation transcending race and numbers, where we are able to interact with each other without being too politically correct and built relationships of trust.”

She is committed that her office will join the fight against xenophobia. “Our office will support any initiatives that tackle xenophobia and make sure that the University speaks with a strong voice against it. We have a fair amount of international students and academics at Wits and we need to do everything in our power to protect them,” says Manyika.

We wish Manyika good luck in her new position!