Faith Khanyile, CEO & Director At WDB Investment Holdings

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Ms. Faith Khanyile is the Chief Executive Officer and Director at WDB Investment Holdings Pty Ltd. She has been associated with the firm for over 18 years, as one of its founding members and a non-executive director. In the latter part of 1998, she was seconded, full time, to WDB Investment Holdings to assist in the establishment and management of this empowerment investment company, where she successfully concluded a number of transactions.

From 2001 to 2013, she was with Standard Bank. She was the Head of Corporate Banking Coverage at Standard Bank, Corporate and Investment Banking Division for 12 years. Prior to this role, Ms. Khanyile was the Head of Trade Finance and Services (2006-2008).  Between 2003 and 2006, Ms. Khanyile was a Director in the Structured Debt Finance Division of CIB, where she successfully concluded a number of transactions in diverse sectors. Prior to joining Standard Bank, she was with Brait Private Equity for five years, as an Investment Analyst from March 1995 to December 2000 and later, Deal Executive, responsible for a portfolio of investments in media and retail sectors. Ms. Khanyile is currently a Director of Uthingo Management Services where she is a Member of the Uthingo Trust; BP South Africa; and Adcorp Holdings.

Ms. Khanyile has extensive experience in financial services, corporate and investment banking, strategy development and leadership. She has an HDIP Tax from RAU University in 2005 and completed an Executive Leadership program at Columbia University (New York) in 2007. Ms. Khanyile received an M.B.A. in Finance from Bentley Graduate School of Business and a B.A. (Honors) in Economics (Cum laude) from Wheaton College Norton.

My Definition Of Success | Success to me means having a sense of being of service to others and being at peace internally (being comfortable with myself).   I strive to live my life in a holistic balanced manner (personal well – being, having time for my family and friends, having financial success and sharing my talent and successes with others).  When I was younger, success to me was more about material success but my perspectives have shifted in the past 10 years or so.  The reason being that material success wasn’t translating into my overall happiness, fulfillment and balance.

I Am Driven By | I am driven by this urge to make a difference and to change my world and the lives of those around me. I believe I have a much bigger purpose for being on earth and that purpose is to constantly challenge/change myself and my limits as well as to be of service to others.

My Highlights | Key highlights in my life that have shaped my present are: After a falls start (having to repeat Grade 12), in 1986 I obtained a scholarship to study at an “Ivy League” preparatory high school in the United States, this was a life changing experience, I then stayed on in the US to a college, also through a combination loans and scholarship funding, graduated cum laude for my Bachelors economics degree and later on completed my MBA in 1994.  I think the proudest moment was when I obtained my Bachelors (hard work paid off!) and seeing the joy and pride on my mother’s face.  Career wise the highlights were: being part of a team that conceptualized and ultimately established WDB Investment Holdings in 1997 (from a garage so to speak).  Today WDBIH is playing an important role in the empowerment of women and upliftment of rural communities in South Africa.

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The Difference Between Good And Great | I think the key difference is passion and having a purpose bigger than oneself.  For example in business, a purpose bigger than just making a profit or selling more and more quantities of goods. I believe that without a bigger purpose one can easily be sidetracked or demoralized when challenges arise.

A Key Talent | One of my key strengths is mental resilience and not giving up no matter what.  I was raised in a rural village outside Empangeni in Northern KZN and I am a second born of 6 (3 boys and 3 girls).  I was raised by a strong-willed woman and a supportive father. The values that were instilled to all of us early on was that irrespective of whether you were a boy or girl, our parents treated us equally and we were all expected to be the best that we could be.  I have had many ups and downs in my life and career and I have always managed to get up and try again.  At the age of 19 I left home to study in the United States after obtaining a scholarship.  Upon my return to South Africa in 1994, I moved to Johannesburg to find a job I learnt to develop own networks through called calling  ultimately through these networks secured my first job at Brait Private Equity.   After 5 years at Brait I moved to Standard Bank, where I spent 12 years and was the first black woman ever to be the Head of Corporate Banking and to sit in the Corporate & Investment Banking Executive Committee.  Throughout my career and I have had to confront head on perceptions and prejudices of others for the mere fact that I am a black woman in a still male-dominated corporate environment.  I had to stomach all sorts of doubts also about my abilities and ultimately what kept me pushing forward was self-belief and having support from my mentors and my family.

What has helped me to stay the path so to speak is self-belief (this is developed over time, as you fall you must always find a reason to get up and try again) and support. I have learned over the years to accept failure and challenges as challenges create opportunities to move to the next level of progression and success.  My advice to the readers is that they must first believe in themselves and their dreams; they must have passion and work hard, they must know that failure is an integral part of the game of life and they must learn to embrace and learn from challenges and finally they have to put the hours and effort to make their dreams come true.  I believe that a mindset of never giving up is critical to success. Also, it is very important to create and maintain networks and to have mentors as no one can succeed without the support from others!

The Characteristics Of Success | Key characteristics: resilience, being an optimist, being humble, ability to move on (not holding to the past), having a balance and constantly challenging myself.

Principles I Live By | My key values are: integrity; respect for others, being true to myself; human dignity and hard working

Critical Skills I Develop | I was trained in economics and finance.  I believe that my academic training provided a good platform for me, in addition communication and interpersonal skills are very important as business and life in general is about people and relationships; therefore a combination of “hard” technical skills and interpersonal skills is critical for attaining success.  Later on in my career I took leadership courses, including spending a month at Columbia University in New York.  The key lesson that I learnt there is the importance of self-awareness or self-mastery. I believe that this is another important leadership skill that can definitely be learnt.

How I Use My Mind | I am an optimistic person by nature and I have a “big” picture outlook towards life, but I do feel down at times and I do a few things to train my mind to focus and to be positive (including meditation and exercise as well as learning from people that I admire and look up to). I have also taught myself that the set backs are only temporary, as long as I continue to do the right things, ultimately the right outcome will happen, therefore I try not to control the outcome too much by letting go.

Lessons I Have Learnt | The most important lesson for me has been not to give up no matter what, to have self-belief and to keep imagining/dreaming a better me and future. What I have also learnt is that a deeper meaning and fulfillment comes from giving and being of service to others.  I support a number of charities, I mentor and sponsor young people whenever I get the opportunity to do so.

Dealing With Doubt | My first big promotion in Standard Bank was a big test for me. From being a deal maker to managing a business with more than 300 people as well as being tasked to turn around a business that wasn’t performing well.  In this role I had to build a team, manage poor performers, learn a completely new business and basically get out of my comfort zone.   Even though I accepted the challenge, deep down I was afraid that I wouldn’t cope and I would fail.  After getting over my fears doubt I decided that I had no choice but to make it a success, this involved asking for help, learning the business and just taking it step by step. I achieved the goal and 3 years later I was promoted to a bigger role.

Performing At My Peak | I try to have a balance (wellness and spiritual. I run (have finished 2 comrades, have an exercise regime).  I believe pursuing a holistic approach to life is critical

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I like reading biographies (currently trying to finish Steve Jobs biography and spiritual books.  I unfortunately don’t have too much time for other leisurely activities as I have youngish children, my youngest is 5 years old.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | The best advice that I ever received was from my father and this advice was to always appreciate what I have, to stay humble and to give back to those that are unfortunate.

Advice On Building Wealth | Whatever you choose to do, have a love and passion for it and always think about what value you can add to either your customers or suppliers i.e. how do you make the life of your customer better?

On Inspiring Others | Find people with energy and talent, paint a vision/purpose,  be clear on the deliverables and trust them to deliver.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would like to be remembered as someone who did their best to impact the lives of others positively.

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