Featured - September 25, 2020

Gloria Zvaravanhu – Business Mail Interview

  • How do you briefly introduce yourself?

I am a committed, determined, courageous and purpose driven leader, influencer, mentor, wife and mother! My personal mantra is #4Gs4life. I thrive to be guided by the 4Gs of Gratitude, Goodness, Generosity and Gladness. If I ever fail to live the 4Gs its never for lack of trying!

  • Your achievement are quite impressive, that is, at one time being General Manager, Corporate Services, Past President of Institute of Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe (ICAZ) and Vice Chairman of the IDC Board, how did you manage to handle the pressure that comes with such high level jobs?

Thank you. Everything that I do is with full commitment. The moment I say yes to something I move mountains to get it done. Everything seems impossible before it is done. Nelson Mandela said it. Usually most things appear daunting before one actually starts them. Some of the positions I have held, most at a young age, scared me, but once I wore the shoes and I girded up with commitment, confidence and support, it always works out. Not to say there are no challenges with such high level positions, there are. I find that leadership is about courage, inspiration and confidence. Knowledge is required most definitely, but you also need wisdom which is what tells you what to do with the knowledge you have. Wisdom, by the way, can’t be found in the best MBA or leadership books…only from God!

  • So what can you consider as a greatest motivation in your sector?

I really don’t belong to a particular sector. I am an accountant by profession but I have had my hands in insurance, I have served or still serve on boards in manufacturing, scientific research, capital markets, legal services, social services etc. Our family business is in distribution. So to cut the response short, I am not boxed into any sector and I am not really motivated by anything external to me, my greatest motivation comes from within. Whatever allows me to influence, to have significance, to impart my knowledge and experience and to comfortably practice my 4Gs, then I am there.

  • What was your greatest inspiration to venture into the accounting sector?

Money…at the stage that I made my career choice at age 17, I was hungry to make a difference in my life and that of my family. I picked what I believed at the time was the most financially rewarding career. I must say it did reward me!. If I were to rewind I would still make the same career choice and become a Chartered Accountant.  I must admit that deep down in my heart I admired lawyers. I loved how they always appeared knowledgeable and articulate. To add salt to the wound my circle of close friends are mostly legal brains than accountants. I served on a Board of the Legal Resources Foundation and loved working with lawyers.  That is why I did the LLM in International Business Law with a UK University a few years ago. I had to fulfil that deep seated desire to study law. It was a life changing experience! I wish I had done it sooner….but I would still have chosen the Chartered Accountancy Profession any day!

  • How do you manage to achieve your own setup goals?

I am blessed with discipline, consistency and commitment. If I set a goal, I just go for it with all my heart. I am inspired by a quote by Martin Luther King “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’”

I am a woman of faith, everything I do is committed to God, you cannot fail with God. You might suffer delays, diversions and setbacks but never failure!

  • What was your greatest success and how did you achieve that?

I am still to get to my AHA! moment of success as defined by me. I aspire to significantly influence other people lives for the better. That is what the second half of my life is all about. Having read the book ‘Half time moving from success to significance’ by Bob Buford, he defines the first half of one’s life as being up to 40 years where you will mostly be focused on success for yourself and then he defines the next 40 as the phase where you focus on significance to others. I am in that significance zone. I am sowing the seeds and I hope to reap them as my legacy.

 As for my first half, I have had a fairly successful career thus far. The highlights for me were getting into executive management for a big financial services company at age 26, Being selected for the Fortune Global mentorship program and shadowing the most successful business women in the US, being Board Chairman of two significant organisations, serving as  a director of listed entities, entering the international stage though serving on the Pan African Federation of Accountants Board and the Professional Accountants in Business advisory council of the International Federation of Accountants and of course serving my Institute first as the second Female President in the 100 year history of ICAZ, and now as Chief Exec.

 I have also received a few business accolades in Zimbabwe, that include Female Manager of the year (2013), Corporate Governance Professional of the year (2017), Young Professional leader of the year (2018).

  • What was your greatest setback in the sector and how much did it affect you?

I think I suffered setbacks like any other Zimbabwean professional, arising from the economic environment in Zimbabwe.  As I was settling into my executive post in 2006/7 we were hit hard by hyperinflation that saw us mostly firefighting and adopting preservation mode instead of growth. The wave has revisited us again. I have seen organisations i am involved with lose savings, livelihoods affected by lose of jobs or devaluation of incomes. I have seen my mother lose all her pension money. I have seen the moral decadence that affect our social fabric. I have seen the brain drain and close family and friends emigrating and decimating the family/social support unit.

But every challenge and setback also builds strength and resilience. I am mostly who i am because of what I have gone through. Counting it all joy!

  • What is your normal trend for overcoming the challenges you face in your life or business?

I have an all-powerful source and that is my God… I take my challenges to him first. He guides my steps to where I go next. That has been my way of life and always makes loads easier to carry whether business or personal.

I have a good support system in my husband, mother, sisters and friends. I get wisdom on how to solve the challenges. In business I have mentors who I go to when I need direction.

I must say though that this saying describes me very well “Just because I carry it so well doesn’t mean the load is not heavy”

  • Besides what you are well known of, what else do you do on your spare time?

I love spending time with my two under 5s (TK and Tatu), who in themselves are an inspirational story. They are a constant reminder of who i am and the journey I have travelled to get here. The sincerity in young children is amazing. No wonder it is said that for sanity everyone should endeavour to spend time with young children or with the elderly.

I love reading books. At one point i had a challenge to read a book a day during the early days of the Covid-19 lockdown. Some of the books I have read have become my life guides i.e. the leadership lessons from the monk who sold his Ferrari, the little black book for stunning success, the richest man in Babylon, the greatest salesman in the world, Jesus the CEO, the power of nice, 48 laws of power, nice girls don’t get the corner office and recently I stumbled across a book by Mike Murdock called the ‘Businessman’ which gives you bible guiding principles for business and life in general. I have a feeling that book is going to be a close ally going forward.

In line with my 4Gs, iam involved in a soup kitchen that provides a meal to almost 800 people daily in a Harare suburb. I also mentor many young people and support others financially towards their education. Iam also passionate about women development and get involved in many such initiatives and programs.

Do you have a social life? If no how do you cope with the social world outside of profession? If yes how do you balance your social life with your professional life

It really depends how social life is defined, if it means being active on social media …then I really don’t have a social life to talk about. If It’s about healthy rewarding relationships with family and friends then yes, I have a social life. My desire is not to have a distinction between my professional life and my social life…. i just want it to be MYLIFE. I desire to live the same value system professionally and socially. My 4Gs must be evident both professionally and socially.  My desire is to love what I do so much such that it becomes difficult to distinguish professional life from social life. My desire is to live a life so authentic that the Gloria at home is exactly described the same way at work. I will get there….hopefully.

 Perhaps to satisfy you.. let me say I have many support groups/friends for different things in my life…some balance me with regards my career growth, some balance my healthy living lifestyle, some help me grow in my faith and some help me become a better mum and wife.

  • What would you like to advice people out there who look up to you as their own source of inspiration?

I would humbly say have your feet firm on the ground and connect to a supernatural source.

  • Who is your favourite musician and why?

I have many favourites for different seasons and circumstances.  If i am to single out one, I would say the South African Songstress Lira! Lerato Molapo.  I find her to be authentic and her songs inspire me to love life. She is also a great stage performer.

  • Are you married, if so how do you balance being a wife, a mother and a business leader? Is it stressful at times?

Yes, I have been married for 18 years now. The balance is a fallacy, it’s all just a constant juggle. But being married to a friend and fellow CA has made the load easier. You can move from pillow talk to family conversations to social conversations to intellectual conversations seamlessly and all with one person. It’s such a blessing.  I also have great support, my mum and sisters are ready helps! Iam also powered by two great helpers (Mai Tendai and mai Jaketi ) who take care of my kids and my household.

At work I have the best team ever! Committed, dedicated and authentic and i have Rumbi who is a great personal assistant, it makes the work so enjoyable and easy.

  • What does it mean to you to be CEO of your organization?

It means service, leadership, engagement, influence, impartation, significance

  • What challenges has the post presented to you as a woman?

The quest for balance mentioned above, but with the support systems I have mentioned it all works out.

Professionally I do not define myself by my gender and so I turn a blind eye and trivialise anything that condescends me for being woman. I am a leader and i am where i am based on merit and i am confident of that!

 I have never had to use the gender ticket. I however embrace my femininity fully with no apologies.

  • What does it take for one to reach where you are today?

Commitment, focus, investment in knowledge and relationships. Continuous /lifelong learning!

  • What is your favourite food?

I had to think hard on this one…i am not really a foodie! I turned vegetarian a couple of years ago so I love beans, spinach and mushrooms the most.

  • Your message to young professional women and men.

Only two things

  1. Continually invest in yourself, lifelong learning! Invest in your knowledge base, social capital, relational capital and spiritual capital
  2. Invest in the betterment of others!

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