It is women’s month and Liyema Consulting is ushering in a new dawn. To accompany the launch of our re-invigorated website and brand new corporate identity, we decided to have a sit down with the fabulous MD herself, Ayanda Mzondeki.
Besides being an MD involved with various organisations and projects, Ayanda is also a graduate of the 2014 Goldman Sachs-GIBS 10 000 Women Certification Programme, an alumni of the 2016 Ernst Young Winning Women, a member of BWASA and WPO (Women Presidents Organisation). She is also a partner and mother of two, who earlier this morning was invigilating at her children’s school.
She bursts into the Liyema reception 15 minutes before our meeting looking chic and with her infectious energy, breaks the silence in the office. Our conversation begins with her talking about how she wishes she could dedicate more time to her children’s school and inevitably we delve into the concept of a work/life balance.
“There is no such thing”, she says. “The trick is just to be present in whatever it is you do. When I’m helping my son with homework, I’m present and when I’m here in the office I am fully here.”
Even though my first question about the origins of Liyema, is one she has probably answered many times before, she smiles as if it’s the first time she’s had to share her story.
In 2010, Ayanda met an incredible woman named Nolundi and as she describes it, they ‘clicked on another level ‘. They came to realise that they shared the same vision for the staffing industry, and from that vision, Liyema Consulting was born.
Ayanda shares that, “Liyema began from a passion for finding people jobs they can be happy in and to be treated like people within those jobs.”
Having started the business while they were both employed and using their own income to run it, Nolundi was first to quit her job and Ayanda soon followed. Sadly, Nolundi passed on within the first year of business. Ayanda worked through her grief and continued to realise their dream. She has never forgotten their shared vision to change people’s lives and ensure families are cared for, directly and indirectly through Liyema.
Ayanda also adds that Nolundi’s legacy of finding people who are passionate about what Liyema stands for, has been integral to their growth and I am reminded that you can teach skill, but you can’t teach passion.
Over the years, Liyema has grown tremendously from the business they started in their bedrooms with laptops, a R150 Neotel phone and a dongle.
I ask Ayanda about the timing of the launch on Women’s Day and her feelings about Women’s Month. Her response is a testament to the values that drive Liyema. She is willing to stand firmly in the spotlight that this month provides while being clear that every month is Women’s Month. “We cannot change lives in one month or in one day.”
Liyema is determined to be a torch bearer for #BlackGirlMagic by employing as many women as possible, in part because they believe that when money comes into the hands of women, communities thrive.
With 90% of her team and almost all of her suppliers being made up of women, it is evident that this is not just lip service. In regards to her staff, Ayanda says that women practise more compassion and this is a business that needs compassion more than anything else.
The achievements thus far, have taught this resilient company and its fearless leader to always pay it forward and to strive to create a world where there is gender parity and a child from Zwelitsha has the same opportunities as a child from Houghton.
In doing their part, Liyema is currently supporting an initiative in the Eastern Cape by Mavo Solomon, called The Travelling Mathematician. In Johannesburg, the team’s Saturdays are often dedicated to Career Readiness training sessions, which are mostly attended by young women.
The age old question of whether women support each other in business comes up and Ayanda feels that women can do so much better by starting to trust each other in their personal lives. When the trust is established, they are able to successfully conduct business. Ayanda considers herself to have been lucky to have found a partnership with WeConnect International, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world.
With the rebranding, Ayanda would like to introduce to the world, a Liyema that is at the forefront and is excited about the future of work. She invites you to join Liyema as they explore automation technology, like AI and IoT, that’s changing the landscape of the business of people. Alexa, the virtual assistant developed by Amazon, is already part of the Liyema team. And it even sends out tweets now and again.
The evolution of Liyema also calls for expansion. The Cape Town office was officially opened on the 1st of August and Liyema currently conducts business in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ireland, Australia and Kenya.
With all that is happening at Liyema, our allocated time with its MD is almost up. As our conversation winds down, I return to Ayanda who is a mother and partner. I ask her what she wishes she could teach her children, especially her teenage daughter.
She tells me that she prays her daughter’s self-worth never dwindles. That she keeps her confidence but remembers that ‘umntu “ngumuntu” ngabantu’.
She talks a bit more about her favourite topic, her children. Her son is into soccer and her daughter plays basketball and has just directed her very first play. We continue the conversation as she walks me out of her office and into the buzz of the general Liyema space, talking about screaming pitch side at soccer matches and her daughter ‘slaying’ her driving lessons.
Allow us to re-introduce Liyema Consulting and Ayanda Mzondeki. They are determined to make an impact and change people’s lives.