We chatted to our 2023 thought leader, Kershini Govender, Nedbank’s Executive Head of Transformation and Strategy, who will be sharing tips, tricks and inspiration in a monthly column.

Kershini Govender was born and raised in Pietermaritzburg. After completing a BCom in Business Finance, Economics and Logistics at the University of Natal (PMB), Kershini began her career at Transnet. She then moved to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and joined Nedbank after five-and-a-half years. Almost two decades later, having held roles in Group Business Innovation and Group Strategy, she became the Nedbank Executive Head of Transformation and Strategy. Currently she represents Nedbank at the Banking Association South Africa and is on the board of trustees of the Nedbank Community Trust. Kershini is also an ICF-accredited Coach and Enneagram Practitioner and holds an MSc in Behavioural Change and Coaching (cum laude) through Henley Business School.

Q: What can we expect from your columns this year?

A: I’ve acquired a range of skills, including strategy, business analysis, project management, transformation and coaching, so I look forward to sharing some learnings – including how Nedbank achieved a Level 1 BBBEE status under my leadership.

Q: What excites you about your role?

A: Being involved in something purposeful that makes a difference is important to me. This job involves two completely different functions – compliance and strategy. Compliance requires rigid adherence, while strategy involves creativity. It’s dynamic and challenging, so there’s never a dull moment.

Q: Tell us about your formative years in Pietermaritzburg.

My dad was a workshop controller at Ford Armstrong and my mother was a teacher. My three sisters and I had the privilege of our grandmother living with us. She was my first mentor, and a pillar of strength from whom I learnt the importance of family values, discipline, respect and integrity.

Q: What challenges have you overcome?

A: After my matric year, my father passed on from cancer. I was always taught that education is important and I should be independent, and I used this ideal to motivate myself and persevere to become the person I am today. Transnet gave me a study bursary, which led to my first job. I was also once married, but it didn’t work out. My divorce coincided with my first work trip overseas, so I had to learn resilience. All these experiences made me who I am today. I don’t mind talking about them. I believe that, with every breakdown you will find the breakthrough.

Q: What is your enneagram type?

A: I’m a ‘Type 8 – Active Controller’ — assertive, decisive, independent and influential. But I also have to be mindful of my blind spots, such as being perceived as intimidating.

Q: What do you love doing in your spare time?

A: I enjoy walking and reading. I love travelling and have been to many cities, but I have recently started seeking more spiritual experiences. I recently participated in a retreat in India, and a cruise to Alaska, both of which gave me a new perspective on life.

Q: What philosophy do you live by?

A: I love this quote by Aristotle: ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.’

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