This Youth Month, South Africa‘s business leaders are stepping forward to empower the next generation with invaluable insights and advice. Recognising the potential and ambition of young professionals, seasoned experts are sharing their experiences and tips to help guide and inspire the youth on their career journeys. From embracing discomfort and persistence to actively seeking growth opportunities and daring to take part in their future, these business professionals offer practical wisdom and encouragement to help South Africa‘s youth navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead.

Say Yes – The Power Of Putting Yourself Out There

Veronica Moleele, CEO of the brand and communication agency Penquin, explains that stepping outside your comfort zone and immersing yourself in situations where you can learn, grow, and network to advance your professional career is vital for career growth.

“Networking and visibility are crucial for personal and professional growth. The business world thrives on connections and relationships, and putting yourself out there is the first step towards building a robust professional network. Meeting new people can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations.”

Veronica explains

Veronica adds that public speaking, attending events, and networking help build confidence and communication skills, which are invaluable assets in any business setting.

“Putting yourself out there is about seizing opportunities and making your presence known within your industry, and it is one of the most powerful tools one can utilise to grow. Striving to continually learn and grow, whether through formal learning/training or through experiences, is vital to broadening our perspectives and can truly propel your career forward. It’s in the doing that we learn more about ourselves and others and how to navigate the world around us. So step forth and conquer—the world is yours to explore.”

Veronica continues

Prioritise Continuous Learning

The business world is constantly evolving, and staying updated with the latest trends, technologies, and skills is crucial for success.

“Staying informed about industry trends keeps you competitive, helps you acquire new skills and improve existing ones, and ensures long-term success by being knowledgeable and adaptable to changes,”.

says Wilson Tauro, Country Manager Southern Africa at Air FranceKLM

In addition, Wilson explains that taking the time to listen to what the customer wants goes a long way with making an impact.

“Customers are the lifeblood of any business, and their satisfaction is paramount. Insights from customers can guide the development and improvement of products or services, enhance satisfaction and loyalty, and help you stay ahead of market trends. Embracing a mindset of lifelong learning ensures that you remain relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing business environment and will help any professional get ahead and make a positive impact in their respective field.”

Wilson explains

Embrace discomfort

For young professionals aiming to accelerate their careers, embracing discomfort is essential.

“Discomfort is where growth happens and growth requires a proactive mindset and taking initiative. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; seek them out by volunteering for projects, proposing new ideas, and demonstrating your willingness to tackle challenges beyond your defined role. By stepping outside your comfort zone and actively pursuing growth opportunities, you can significantly enhance your skills and career trajectory.”

As Deirdre King, Managing Director at Jacaranda FM, aptly explains,

This proactive approach not only showcases your enthusiasm and dedication but also builds resilience and adaptability, qualities highly valued in today’s dynamic work environment. Engaging in diverse experiences helps you gain new perspectives, foster creativity, and develop a broader skill set, all of which are crucial for long-term career success.

Growth is a journey that takes time – but embrace every part of it

Puleng Mathabatha, owner of Math Restaurant in Waterfall, Johannesburg, shares a piece of advice that has helped him embrace his professional career – and it’s an important one.

“The journey can be daunting and consuming, but the reward is beautiful. One of my favourite lines to encourage myself as I pursue my dreams was relayed to me by one of my best friends. He told me ‘Going after your dreams will always take longer than you expect and will be much harder than you are prepared for, but you will get there if you persist.”

Persistence and resilience in the face of challenges is an important part of moving forward in your career.

“Embrace your youth as a time for gathering experiences, trying new things, and refusing to take no for an answer. By maintaining a tenacious mindset and continuously pushing forward, you set the stage for long-term success and personal fulfilment.”

Puleng continues