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“Women are endowed with so many natural talents, and sometimes we forget about our strengths in order to fit in a male-dominated world.” with Jesmane Boggenpoel

Use the skills that come more naturally to female leaders, such as empathy and vulnerability, which is a vital strength when leading teams. Women are endowed with so many natural talents, and sometimes we forget about our strengths in order to fit in a male-dominated world. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jesmane Boggenpoel, an […]


Use the skills that come more naturally to female leaders, such as empathy and vulnerability, which is a vital strength when leading teams. Women are endowed with so many natural talents, and sometimes we forget about our strengths in order to fit in a male-dominated world.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jesmane Boggenpoel, an experienced business executive and former Head of Business Engagement for Africa at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and author of My Blood Divides and Unites. She has served on the boards of various South African and international organizations. She is a Chartered Accountant and holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s JFK School of Government. Jesmane was honoured as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, is a Harvard Mason fellow and a shareholder and founding board member of African Women Chartered Accountants Investment Holdings. Boggenpoel has extensive global experience having studied and worked on three continents, as well as travelling to over 65 countries.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

From a young age, I was interested in the world of finance and business. I did not have role models in my family on this path, so I am not sure what piqued the interest.

I started my career in auditing and then progressed to corporate finance and subsequently private equity. I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to many opportunities, including establishing my own business, serving on the boards of large organizations and going back to study at Harvard’s school of government as a mid-career.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I’d like to rephrase and the question that share the most interesting story that happen to me since beginning my career, and that was when I was honoured as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. I was truly honoured.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I moved to Switzerland ahead of starting a new job the next day, I wanted to wash my hands with what I thought was the hand wash gel in my new apartment. Instead, it was shampoo, and it squirted into my eyes. I could not see for about an hour. My eyes were burning, and I had to get a cab to take me to a hospital. The doctor gave me an ointment, and it cleared up the next day. I learned if you are in a new environment and feeling pressured, be careful about mundane tasks, so it doesn’t end up blowing up in your face (figuratively and literally).

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The organization I am co-shareholder and director of, African Women Chartered Accountants Investment Holdings, which is a professional women investment company with over 2,000 women beneficiaries.We are a 100% black woman owned, where shares are held by natural persons. The shareholders are 54 black women majority of whom are CAs, captains of industry and spread across different sectors and provinces. This makes AIH a unique, professional women investment company with depth of financial skills, key to all businesses.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I’ve just released my first book titled, My Blood Divides and Unites: Race Identity, Reconciliation. A memoir with lessons, recounting my coming-of-age as a young girl growing up during the apartheid in South Africa. The book follows my tumultuous, yet inspirational journey to reconciliation, acceptance, and forgiveness, My Blood Divides and Unites offers a universally powerful message and provides readers with a roadmap to self-discovery, reframing their personal stories, and becoming inspirational leaders for others so that all individuals, groups and nations can, as one, look toward the future with hope.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Use the skills that come more naturally to female leaders, such as empathy and vulnerability, which is a vital strength when leading teams. Women are endowed with so many natural talents, and sometimes we forget about our strengths in order to fit in a male-dominated world.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Structure weekly team meetings in addition to one-one-one meetings with individuals on your team. Also, strive to create an enabling environment for team members to be empowered to lead, which can help with accountability and delegation.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

In the earlier years in my career, I had a mentor, Eleanor Scott. She was a marketing executive who put together a group of seven women who she’d meet with bi-weekly to discussed leadership principles. Her meetings and guidance provided me with a strong support system throughout my career.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I get involved in commercial ventures that also have a social impact. My new book My Blood Divides and Unites has a message on racial reconciliation and diversity which can hopefully play a role in stemming hate and bias. I am also a co-shareholder and director of African Women Chartered Accountants Investment Holdings, a professional women investment company with over 2,000 women beneficiaries.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Self-Reflection: after a meeting or transaction that has not gone off well, I reflect on what I could have done better. This helps me when the next encounter arises.

2. Engaging authentically with people. I try to show up authentically. I believe that people can see through insincerity and this inhibits collaboration.

3. Being able to engage around ideas and constructive feedback, yet also step back and assertively take a decision if called for. A leader needs to be able to do both.

4. Having self-compassion enables more compassion for others. I am results driven and have learned that I need to nurture myself through self-compassion. This, in turn, allows me to have more compassion for others.

5. A growth mindset: My entire career has been about growing and stretching myself. I have continuously undertaken new roles and ventures in different geographies that require new skill sets. In my first career, I started in investments and private equity. After that and mid-career, I studied at Harvard, where I exposed to international classmates, stakeholder management, policy, and leadership. I began to seek roles where I could develop relationships with senior business leaders across Africa and the world. Most recently, my latest endeavor is the book I wrote, which offers a personal account, and ties in a global message that incorporates international interviews. My recent interest in technology saw me advise an east Asian fintech company, make a few tech investments through a start-up platform and judge a start-up innovation competition.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Investing in technology as a ‘force for good.’ I believe that technology innovation is many targeted at solutions for large enterprises and the middle class. I want to start a movement where we are using technology to solve problems that affect people at the base of the pyramid.

Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘’There is hope in your future’’

No matter what the circumstances, being optimistic and hopeful about the future and having a vision that is bigger than me.

Thank you for joining us!

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