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Neo Shabalala - No limitations

Neo Shabalala lives by the personal mantra: "I can do anything as long as I set my mind to it." She added, "I believe that there are no limitations to what I can do and achieve."

These beliefs have served Shabalala well and have allowed her career path to change and grow over time. Shabalala's childhood years were spent in Lesotho where she completed her schooling. Her tertiary education started in Grahamstown and continued in Durban. Shabalala completed a Business Management and Administration Diploma at Varsity College, a Bachelor of Commerce in Information Systems at UKZN, followed by Honours Bachelor of Science in Information Science at UNISA.

Her career has not always been smooth sailing; an initial challenge experienced was that of entering the job market. Her childhood in Lesotho had not prepared her for the world of work and she found that the cultural differences were difficult to adjust too. Shabalala also initially found herself lacking in self-confidence and was unable to sell her strengths sufficiently.

Working at KPMG has enabled her to overcome these obstacles. KPMG allows innovation and employees are encouraged to take on different roles and responsibilities, according to their specialisation.

Shabalala took part in KPMG's development programme, which includes soft skills training in presentation, business development, business writing and advisory training amongst other courses. "I have learnt from the people around me through observation and from evaluating their journeys critically. I am also aware of my own self-learning, which has prompted my development," added Shabalala.

These opportunities along with her personal ambition have allowed her career to advance and branch out into new responsibilities. "I have learnt to make myself known for my skills and capabilities and while I still have a reserved personality, I allow my successes to speak for myself," said Shabalala. "I allow my delivery to reflect my abilities and I constantly evaluate what people and clients require from me. But most importantly, I remain true to myself," she said. As her father raised her, Shabalala has not felt that being female has limited her career in a male dominated world. A highlight of her career was becoming one of the youngest Partners at KPMG KwaZuluNatal. "This was a hugely exciting milestone in my career," said Shabalala. Being Head of the Public Sector involves acting as coordinator for the firm's biggest client. Shabalala assists with the KPMG public sector's performance in the marketplace, including ensuring that regulatory requirements are adhered to. Her responsibilities comprise monitoring and evaluating strategy implementation.

Shabalala was well prepared for this role having worked with all spheres of government as well as state owned enterprises as her clients. One of Shabalala's areas of expertise is Enterprise Architecture and IT Strategy. Shabalala's job roles include being chairperson of the KPMG transformation committee. This committee promotes diversity within the firm and ensures that there is equal opportunity and fairness among employees in the workplace. "I thoroughly enjoy watching other people grow and I love mentoring people. Being a leader provides me the opportunity to engage with the team and adopt an inclusive approach to tasks. I like to collaborate; you can always learn from the input of others and I enjoy brainstorming sessions. However, I will take control when required," said Shabalala. Shabalala has recently worked on a project that has been very complex and challenging. She said, 'I have been challenged to my core but I have learnt a lot about stakeholders and risk on a daily basis.

The project has included interactions with multiple stakeholders and has involved much time, which has resulted in high profile changes to an organisation's DNA." In response to her current roles, Shabalala said, "I feel that I am now able to enjoy the fruits of my hard labour. My focus is now on consolidation within my work roles and responsibilities. I would like to build my personal brand, solidify and build what I am about." During the past 18 years, Shabalala, who is married, spare time was very focused on her daughter who is a talented gymnast. Now that her daughter is studying architecture at the University of Cape Town,

Shabalala has more spare time and enjoys relaxing at home in front of the television and running for exercise. She also enjoys reading motivational books when on holiday and is currently reading Time to Think by Nancy Kline.

The book also reflects the importance of time out to Shabalala as it allows her to be silent and to reflect on and choose her future path. "I am constantly reinventing myself," she added. One of her dreams is to take up a much bigger role within KPMG. "I believe that I am destined for greatness and intend to grab onto success with two hands and make it happen," concluded Shabalala.

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