Meet Zama Bodlani, Thebe Foundation CEO

It takes a special kind of person to manage the Thebe Foundation. And it is with much pride that we introduce to you Zama Bodlani. He has over ten years of investment banking experience, specialising in business development and portfolio management. He is very passionate about development issues and is full of plans for the Thebe Foundation.

But don’t take our word for it, read on and see what an amazing person he is for yourself.

Talking to Zama

Q. Describe your journey to the top.

First, it was through my studies. I come from a family that values education above everything else. I did a B.Com (Accounting) degree, Masters in Business Leadership and Masters in Development Finance.

I started my career as an audit clerk at PwC. Once I had completed my articles, I entered the development space, more specifically in the finance area. I have worked for SEFA as Project Manager, IDC as a Senior Account Manager, Ithala Development Finance as the Accelerated Development Programs GM, Development Bank of Southern Africa as SBU Head within the SA Operations responsible for KZN province. Before joining Thebe Foundation, I was the Cooperative Specialist at SEFA.

Q. To what or whom do you owe your success?

In each organisation I have worked at, I have always had great support; I am grateful to their leadership personnel, who had the ability to identify potential within me. But most importantly, I owe it to my father and mother, who were the most diligent people I know.

Q. Was there ever a time when you doubted yourself? And how did you get through it?

Yes, it still happens. It happened a lot when I was younger. Sometimes having a bit of doubt helps you not to be ignorant. I believe it’s a way of pushing yourself forward. The way I make sure it does not rule my life is exposing myself to different situations and keeping an open mind. I am never afraid to ask questions.

Q. Who is your role model?

My mother. Also, all those people who are not afraid to push the boundaries – the non-conformists. Not forgetting the leaders in the organisations where I’ve worked.

Q. What advice would you give your younger self today?

You are going to be fine; relax and have some fun.

Q. What is the most important thing today’s youth should learn?

Who they are and what they are curious about. The youth should follow their curiosity, and in the process, they will find their purpose and passion and how they can make a difference to the communities they come from.

Q. Name your three greatest qualities.

Kindness, compassion, and independence.

Q. How do you unwind?

I read, work in the garden and take nature walks. Gym also helps.

Q. What is your favourite movie?

I have a number, but I will count Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Dancing with Wolves among the favourites.

Q. What are your guilty pleasure and your biggest pet peeve?

My guilty pleasure is reading, I love books, and my pet peeves are arrogance, dishonesty and disrespect.

Q. What is next on your list?

PhD, lecturing and being part of the global network of development experts, with the focus on Economic Development related issues. In addition, I would like to become a writer.

Q. What is next for Thebe Foundation?

Expand the scope to include opportunities in other areas that include health and community development activities and skills development. It is critical that the foundation achieves sustainability within medium-term; the only way to achieve this is by forming strategic partnerships.