Nolu Mashologu: Choosing success
Generally the perception is that the last borns are the most spoilt and everyone has to take care of them but Khulukazi has lived a different experience being a pioneer and breadwinner of the family.
Growing up in an impoverished home in the township of Khayelitsha, Khulukazi always had a deep knowing that she wanted a better life for her future. She did not know how but her early love for books would set her apart from many of her peers in the township. Her mother was very strict and did not like children to wander around the streets. Khulukazi found escape and solace in books from a young age where she would spend hours hiding in a corner in one of the back shack rooms playing with her dolls, making clothes for them and reading. Here she would daydream about living in better neighborhoods, staying in a mansion, having cars and having all the clothes she could dream of. This all seemed like play at the time, only later she came to understand that she was shaping her future in her mind first before all could come to fruition in reality. This is a method she continues to use to this day to always see herself as she wants, regardless of the current circumstances. A quote by Albert Einstein says “Imagination is everything. It is a preview of life’s coming attractions”.
In her primary school years where she attended Homba Public Primary School she quickly developed in the English language mostly due to her love for reading and was recognised by the school a number of times where she was selected to read for parliament ministers to show progression of the school and to represent the school at various networking events. Her Grade 4 teacher, Ms Memani recognised even further talents in her, selecting Khulukazi to become part of the Drum Majorettes team, where she later became the leader of the team, leading the team to win their first ever competition which saw the participants going on a trip to Johannesburg, which was a first for most of the youngsters.
She continued her schooling, starting her high school at another township school called Zola High School. This high school was notorious for having unruly students but this did not scare her off. Her first year at the school she made history by winning all the awards for all the subjects in her grade. She was fascinated by this, as she did not put in that much effort into studying hard everyday and was just as surprised at winning all the awards. One afternoon at the school would change the course of her life: a new semi-private school was recruiting students from the township schools in the quest to groom them in Maths, Science and Technology in preparation for university.
She was sold at the idea of being groomed for university because she knew her only ticket out of poverty was education. That afternoon when the application forms were handed out the hall full of students became chaotic, with students stepping on each other. She had to scramble for a form from those that had fallen on the floor. She applied to the semi-private school. To her surprise, she was invited to go write the entrance exams. It turned out she was the only one who applied from that hall full of students. Her father Zwelinzima, who was her greatest fan had always told her that she was the chosen one in the family, accompanied her to go write the exams. Her mother was a domestic worker and her father a taxi driver but they always encouraged her to focus on school. She was accepted at the school, forming part of the second ever intake of this school and her life would turn for the best.
The school was different to any other she had ever seen; It is where she got her first introduction to computers. It was highly academic-focused and instilled a great amount of discipline and self confidence in the students. In her years at the school, she continued to excel, almost always being in the top 3 at the school and the top girl student overall. Another academic achievement came when an essay she wrote was selected as one of the top English essays written in the province. The funny story with this essay was that she wrote it at the last minute on the way to school, scrambling just to have it completed. Highlighting one of the life lessons that creativity comes at times best when you flow effortlessly without having to put too much thinking in the process. Writing a book is still one of her life missions which she plans to undertake in the next year.
She got into the school which is called the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT). In Grade 10, when she started at COSAT, would be the last time her parents would ever have to pay for her fees. Six months after she started, because of her excellent academic progress, she and one other student in the school were granted a bursary from Vodacom which would take care of all her fees, books, accommodation up until she completed university. She saw the favour of God upon her life because she had not even applied for the bursary herself but her Computer Science teacher had endeavoured on her behalf.
This bursary not only provided for her and the other recipient but some of the funds went to the school feeding programme which provided soup and bread to those students that hardly could bring lunch to school or even had anything to eat at home.
In 2001 she was dealt with much tragedy as she unexpectedly lost her biggest fan, her father, to hypertension. Sixteen weeks later, her eldest brother who had now become the breadwinner of her family was shot dead while trying to protect a young woman from a gangster. Out of all this, she knew that the family’s hope had been taken away and she was determined not to let her father down.
She was chosen as one of the school monitors at COSAT and was the one who delivered the valedictory speech at the end of the Matric year in 2002. In 2003, she was accepted at the University of Cape Town for a Business Science extended programme. The change from township life and school proved to be quite a challenge not only for her but her other high school peers who were accepted at the school. At the end of the first year the adjustment challenge proved to be too hard for others that out of her group of girlfriends she was the only girl who was not academically excluded. She believes she made it through even though there was so much freedom at university to do whatever she wanted because she always remembered where she came from. She knew that if she lost her bursary, her dream to complete university would be shattered and that was too high of a price for her. She graduated in 2007 with a BCom specializing in Economics.
She started her career as a junior Economist specializing in Public Finance at the Gauteng Treasury Department. A year and a half later, she was promoted to a Deputy Director position which was very rare to happen in such a short space of time. Her role saw her working with various departments such as the Gauteng Department of Health, the Gauteng Department of Sports assisting them to monitor their yearly budgets, finding solutions to curb over-expenditure and assessing new proposed projects such as the National Health Insurance (NHI). In 2009, while working full-time she enrolled for a full-time BCom Economics Honours Degree, which was one of her most demanding years managing a full-time job and attending classes after work. At one point she had the highest marks in the class for Econometrics and went on to complete the degree in record time.
She went on to expand her career in the corporate sector, spending 5 years working at Old Mutual South Africa in various roles from Strategy development for Sales teams to HR support to name a few. It was at her time at Old Mutual where she went on to embark on an MBA degree at the Stellenbosch Business School. This is where her greatest foundation in leadership was built. The reason she chose the USB MBA was the focus on leadership development which, as she puts it, dissected her personality, giving her insight on who she is, her past and her experiences that have shaped her that now contributed to the adult that she is today. She feels this has been her greatest contributor towards the resilience she has shown in business and how she focuses more on her internal self first as she believes leadership is not about overseeing employees but it’s about leading yourself first. “A man who conquers himself is greater than one who conquers a thousand men in battle” ~ Buddah.
Entrepreneurship was always in her blood as she grew up with her parents always having businesses on the side even when they had jobs. Her parents actually had a spaza shop when she was born, which they named after her. When she was in high school she would sell sweets and muffins to make money for herself and to help out in her home as she knew that money was scarce and she did not like to burden her parents with the mundane requests, like asking for toiletries, when she felt she had the strength and ability to do something. When her eldest brother would bring dozens of chocolates, she would go and sell these at school for a profit. When she was at university, her love for education saw her landing an online job where she taught English online firstly to children in China via virtual classrooms and later to business people in France and Germany. The online English teaching during university meant that she created her own allowance money as her domestic worker mom could only afford so much for the household. And further, online English teaching is a role she picked up at different times when she was not employed and roped in other friends into the sector as an unemployment solution.
Thus, it was no surprise that after her time in corporate she wanted to go the entrepreneurship route. Initially, she did not know exactly what she wanted to do but took a leap of faith.
Shortly after resigning, she landed in the network marketing field. She spent about 3 years from 2016 building and supporting sales teams across South Africa for one of the pioneering network marketing companies in the digital currency space. She had long since had an inquisitiveness on how the world of Trading Financial Markets worked and decided to refocus her energies in this field towards the end of 2018. She re-trained herself on what she had been taught years earlier and sourced out new mentors in the space.
In the second quarter of 2019 she founded her company Regal Capital, an education company on trading Financial Markets. The business was met with some financial losses soon after it started but she had to remember all she had learned about business and that the business world can be lonely, is not always smooth, it can take time for the business to break-even and start being profitable. She had to remember that “Coca-Cola only sold 5 bottles in its first year of operations.”
With all this understanding she did not give up and worked tirelessly for months to find solutions to stabilize the business, change strategies and craft a niche offering. She has now incorporated automated financial trading solutions as part of the business offering and focusing her training mainly on trading commodities: Oil and Gas CFDs.
She is also currently working part-time on a volunteer basis with one of the top Digital currency exchanges in the world, assisting them in educating people on digital currency and helping the company expand their footprint in South Africa. In this role, she also assists in the social impact initiatives of this company by forming relationships and creating channels for charity work with different NGOs in South Africa.
She is a mom to a 5 year old daughter who is highly intelligent and is the greatest motivator for her mom to never give up. She starts her days with meditation and prayer as the foundation of each and every single day. The journey of self-discovery began at the USB in 2011 and is an ongoing journey that improves over time with no destination. She has a passion for education and for the empowerment of women and the youth. In her spare time she enjoys time with her daughter, reading, writing and public speaking. She lives knowing that we all live on borrowed time. It does not matter where you come from, who your parents are and what happened in the past. It is all circumstantial, you can still choose to be who you want to be. Run your race, whatever it may be, crawl if you must until you can sprint, just keep on moving.