BEING able to contribute towards the greater good has taught
me great humility.
Other than working in the corporate business world, I've
worked with destitute and vulnerable children across South Africa - our future
- who only want a chance at a better life.
This experience has moulded me into the person I am today
and motivates me to help where I can by raising awareness for a cause:
mentoring future entrepreneurs by imparting business skills or philanthropic
At the end of the day, we are one community and each person
brings a different piece of the puzzle, gift or talent to the table to create
the full picture.
The greatest lesson I learnt from the Archbishop Desmond
Tutu Fellowship, of which I am a member, is to be analytical about the past and
emotional about the future.
If your emotion gets stuck in your failures, you cannot move
forward. In life you will fail many times, but it is how you learn and move
forward that counts.
This lesson can be applied to many scenarios in life, but
especially in business. At the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, this is
something I tell our entrepreneurs all the time.
"Yes, you may have failed, but it is how you pick
yourself up, dust yourself off and try again that determines how you learn to
Even as a leader at the Branson Centre I am constantly
My leadership style is based on the ubuntu principles; I am
because you are. I am passionate about building teams of people who have a
quality that I don't.
I encourage a strong team bond where we support each other
in moments of high stress - in business there are many!
I run a pretty flat structure and believe if there is a
strong team who have clear goals, are trusting and committed, each one can then
I constantly get stuck in the detail and have to pull away
to carry the whole vision forward. I am a natural visionary, but believe you
can only speak about vision authentically if you are intimately involved in the
cause you serve and lead from the trenches.
Hence I love engaging with the entrepreneurs at the centre
one-on-one, finding out what each one wrestles with so at any given point am
aware of the difficulties, realities and challenges they face.
I also encourage staff to live their authentic selves; I
could think of nothing worse than creating an environment where people check
their personalities out at the door.
The individuality and uniqueness of each staff member is
what makes the Branson Centre what it is today.
* Tracey Lynn Webster is CEO of the Branson Centre of
Entrepreneurship and Virgin Unite Africa, co-founder of Starfish Greathearts
Foundation and a Tutu Fellow. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's
Women's Month campaign celebrating women in business.
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