BCOM (Hons), University of Rhodes
Investment Operations Officer Education
Growing up in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal, under challenging conditions, Gwala was not initially motivated to perform academically. There was very little chance of her getting a tertiary education using her own resources.
However, in her senior school at Inkamana Private Secondary Farm School she felt compelled to try harder. Isabella Steenkamp, her school principal, believed in her and pushed her to keep applying for bursaries. When the opportunity arose to apply for the inaugural Sanlam Investment Cluster CEO bursary, Steenkamp urged Gwala to do so. This bursary is structured around a mentor within the company. After a series of stages and interviews the mentor, Mbuso Mtshali, chose Gwala as one of the beneficiaries.
Gwala says Mtshali, together with Steenkamp, facilitated her entry to Rhodes University and helped her secure accommodation long after the closing date for admissions. This set her on a path to a future that might not have been possible without help.
But the 23-year-old also believes you need to put in the hard work to reach success. Her best career advice is not to sit back and wait for opportunities – go after them and make them happen.