From Dusty Roads to the Executive Table: Q&A With Nontombi George

Dusty Roads. That is what we call the townships where we grew up. It is survival of the fittest. It is a constant search for information that can put us in better positions. Sometimes, inspiration is hard to come by. This was the case for Nontombi George. However, she found motivation in her grandmother. That, coupled with her love for mathematics, made her rise to the big table as a Chief Audit Executive. This a Q&A with her.

Sibusiso Nkosi: What are some of your early memories growing up in the township?

Nontombi George: My earliest childhood memory is being with my grandmother. Oh, I loved that woman. I have always been very talkative around my grandmother but strange enough I was shy when I am with my peers. Instead of reading to me, my grandmother would always tell me about my family history. How I am supposed to carry myself, family values and that was the best way for us to bond. She was proud of me as I was growing up. I grew up as a sport and career focused person. I became a Professional Volleyball player. Sport was my hiding place from most of the hurtful things I was facing. In fact, sport was my therapy but I did not know at the time.

Sibusiso Nkosi: Did you have inspiration from someone/something in your hood that pushed you to want a good career?

Nontombi George: Unfortunately I am coming from a community that was, then, with less children that even had Matric. It was hard for me to look up to anyone. However, what kept me going was my grandmother. I wanted to change our life, build her a nice home and take care of her as she raised me well. It was hard growing up. I had all the reasons to give up, but whenever I thought about my grandmother and my siblings I would be motivated. I am the first born of 7 children. As young as I was, I had to raise my siblings after the passing of my grandmother in 2010. I still do till this day.

Sibusiso Nkosi: How did you choose to get into the audit space, where now you are at a very high level?

Nontombi George: If I may recall, I chose Internal Auditing because of my love for Mathematics. Coming from a background where career exhibitions were not part of our school program in High School made it difficult for me to be inspired, but I was really hungry for education. I wanted to change the perception of the youth and family members that were dropping out of school. In a way, I wanted to make it possible for my grandma and my community to see. They are so proud of me. I am still that kid when I meet elders in the street. They will call the whole community to come and see me (hahaha). I call it proud moments. My peers back home are super proud of me.

Sibusiso Nkosi: What were some of the challenges in your journey to the executive table?

Nontombi George: It has not been an easy journey, to mention a few I will list them:

– Self doubt – I was doubting myself and did not believe that I have so much strength in me. Thanks to platforms such as Career Emporium for assisting in these developments.

– Adapting to change – I started working in a State Owned Entity. I moved to Auditing firms, then I moved to Government. It was not easy at all to adapt to all these changes. There was a lot to unlearn and learn. At times I would encourage myself and say, I am doing it for the young black woman who never had a chance to make it in life. However, most of what kept me going was my principles. The love and passion for Auditing also kept me going.

– Bad managers – I have met bad managers in this journey, but I guess I was fortunate because I first met good managers. So, I knew better and I was able to handle every situation and challenge. I was unshaken by bad managers because I had a strong foundation from my good managers.  

Sibusiso Nkosi: When did you become intentional about reaching the highest level of your profession as an executive?’

Nontombi George: It was in 2020 when I realized that there is absolutely nothing you can throw at me in terms of work and I would not be able to do it. I felt that I am ready to lead. I was fearless. Also, due to a manager that was absent at work, I got an opportunity to take up their work. That is when I saw that I am ready. I always knew (the day I started working) that one day, I will be the Chief Audit Executive. It is strange that I thought, maybe at the age of 40, I can be in the Executive post because most Chief Audit Executives that I know are old.

Sibusiso Nkosi: Now that you are on the executive table, what are you looking forward to?

Nontombi George: I am looking to create change in the government environment. I want to voice out all the changes I always wished for our community. I want to ensure the implementation of recommendations. I want so much change to our systems as South Africa. I feel like it is our time to make our dream land to come true and most importantly to ensure that the legacy we leave behind is unmatched.

Sibusiso Nkosi: What are your career growth tips to young people out there?

Nontombi George: To the young people out there, I would like to tell them that it is not going to be easy, but it is possible. Make sure that:

     – You learn to accept all types of feedback.

     – Build and maintain your reputation.

     – Develop a skill to distinguish yourself.  

     – Ask thoughtful questions for guidance. 

When we were young, we put so much time into thinking about what we were going to be when we grew up. We imagined what it would be like to work in different fields. We dreamt of the difference that we wanted to make, and we planned out the best way to make it happen. That is where I am.

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About Sibusiso Nkosi

Seasoned Executive. Board Member. Certified Life Coach (Specializing in Career Coaching).

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2 Comments on “From Dusty Roads to the Executive Table: Q&A With Nontombi George”

  1. Woow my big sis is such an inspiration and motivation to me, to be able to push myself beyond my limits. Am so proud of her

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