There are thousands, upon thousands of Black women with untold stories of both personal and professional success. We want to recognise as many phenomenal black women whose names are not normally painted on the cover of magazines for you to know them. We want them to be celebrated. Our goal is to publish their voices loud enough to mark the power and esteem that they actually possess. These are bountifully blessed, successful, accomplished, happy Black women that strut their stuff on the big boardrooms of our cities.
On our quest to find the many hidden gems, we came across Stakeholder and Client Service Director at HDI Youth Marketeers, Cuma Pantshwa. She is a driven, successful, powerful woman whose bubbly and genuine personality instantly draws your attention. She not only spends her time professionally building young people’s lives but extends her interest to her social space and sharing her time and expertise for the development of young African youth all around her. We put the spotlight on her this week, revealing why she is such a Phenomenal Black Woman and the reasons that she must be celebrated.
If you could describe who you are and what you stand for in one sentence what would that sentence be? I’m an incurable optimist with a huge appetite for life.
Tell us a bit about HDI? HDI is the leading youth specialist company in Africa. We’ve been around for 20 years and have a deep understanding of youth and this allows us to help brands and organizations connect with young people in a meaningful, memorable, magical ways, and we do this in the streets, malls, schools, hospitals and communities across South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya! We have a strong research unit, so all our campaigns and platforms are insight fuelled, we aim to leave a mark and make a difference. One of our strongest platforms is JBOD (Junior Board of Directors)– its amazing… There’s a kids board, teen board and young adults board. The programme gives our clients razor sharp insights on trends and allows us to really tap in to the youth culture – we get what we put out in the market straight from the horses’ mouth. We make sure to engage our clients creatively and with real issues affecting the youth.
What is your favourite interest working with the youth? I’d have to say it’s the culture because it is changing all the time and most young people are never stuck on the same interests for long. So, the exciting part is having to navigate this intrinsic part of youth thinking and life. It’s like being part of their future, the evolution and the changing times. Plus it’s really fab coz they keep us youthful and informed, and we have fun while working!
Is there a moment in your life that you feel has moulded you into the person you are today? Why? I can’t think of one single moment… I really think that my family and my background has shaped me into the woman I am today – through the ups and the downs, I learnt about the importance of support in my life… Also am really blessed in that I come from a tight knit family, with strong family values instilled from a young age. This has taught me valuable lessons in life, and has moulded me into the woman I have become today.
What have you found to be the most challenging thing about balancing the life of a blossoming career woman and a nurturing mother and wife? Mmmh hard one. I mentioned support above, and I stand by it- no woman can do it all ALONE. We have super human beings around us who are helping us make it, and I have plenty of these super beings in my life – they make me great… The challenges will always be there, like at time one would ask, “Am I a bad mom because I worked late at night and didn’t see my family?” “Am I bad colleague because I wish to skip that client meeting in order to go check on a sick child at home or better yet to go watch my children at a important sporting event that they love?” It’s not easy really, but everyday is a new day. We cannot dwell on the difficulties, but we can only keep trying to do better than yesterday.
Define a powerful black woman? For me she is fearless, knows her worth, understands and lives by the notion of Ubuntu. Powerful is a mixture of both soft and hard, she’s someone who has struck that balance of the ying and the yang. She elevates others and has her feet firmly on the ground and is not swayed by people’s opinions, she’s doing her beautiful thing unashamedly.
What excites you about being a woman of colour? Our unique story/stories, our colourful ambience, and to a certain degree the beatiful climate when we are all together.
What advice can you give aspiring youth, rising in this world of opposition? Stand firm for what your believe in, and really go after your dreams. Nothing can stop you.