1. Tell us where you are from, where you grew up, and about your childhood.
I grew up in rural KZN in Melmoth and KwaNongoma. In retrospect I had a really great childhood albeit not an easy one; we were always working and achieving something. There was never time for idleness, whether cooking, cleaning, looking after the animals or fetching and preparing firewood, it was always something. I think that this shaped my work ethic even today. At the same time we played, but it was physical made-up playing as we never had toys. Our balls were made out of wet paper covered in plastic bags, our skipping ropes plaited from grass and our dolls? A potato head with a stick for a body. I was healthy, it was fun, it was free, there was no TV so family conversations and music was our own entertainment. Our 4 roomed home housed any number of people including over 10 members of my household. By the time I was 8, I was cooking by myself and fully responsible for all my own caretaking. I think I actually had a great childhood, just maybe not one of luxury and that’s ok. – Intel Corporation – A beacon of possibility from a young rural girl Ntombezinhle Modiselle
My dad is a retired priest and teacher. My mom who passed away a couple years ago, did so many jobs from nursing to insurance sales and was always successful. She taught me the art of possibility thinking, while my dad gave me the strong values, the diligence and faith in the importance of community. My older brother Vezi and his wife are my inspiration for faith and persistence. My sister Phumzile is my best friend and guide. She shows me my full potential and often opens my eyes to what the world reflects back to me.
3. Which school did you attend and share one thing about your school that you will never forget?
I went to Kwa-Magwaza school where my dad also taught. I was chosen as one of the Black children to be admitted and sponsored by the German government to one of the German schools in KwaZulu-Natal called Hermannsburg. What I will never forget was the opportunity I got for a better education than my peers at that time.
4. Your career, where did it start?
Please elaborate on some of the challenges and opportunities. After completing my degree in Industrial psychology I was recruited to work for Truworths as a trainee in retail. In retail I acquired a love for fashion and how fashion was a key form of self-expression. I also realised how I enjoyed data and analysing it to create a picture and draw trends. When an opportunity for a personal assistant came up at Siemens I jumped at it. I quickly grew into a marketing role and onto a public relations role at Siemens and that eventually led me to Intel. Over the years I learned to win over my age, skin colour and gender as I grew in the corporate world and I can now offer myself as a beacon of possibility to any young rural girl and say that everything is possible if one just takes the first step.
5. What are some of your key career highlights and memorable moments?
My highlights are always the people and teams I have worked with and this has given me great memories and invaluable lessons. I have acquired supportive friends and amazing mentors.
6. Who was/is your role model and why?
My role model is my dad. When I was little he guided and disciplined me and instilled in me the love of learning and the love of community. I’ve never seen him deviate from his values and that has been a great lesson for me.
7. Your favourites, and why?
Colour in clothes: Black because it goes with everything and never goes out of style, and orange because it instantly lifts my mood. Car, from your first to current: Green Toyota Tazz, then a red Toyota Tazz, to a BMW 1 series and now my mommy car is a Black Jeep Cherokee Sports. Holiday destination: Anywhere by the sea with a Spa. Food: chicken curry, chocolate and coffee.
8. Where and how did you meet your spouse?
I met Clifford in Durban through a mutual friend. We were just friends till he asked to discuss lobola with my parents. 12 amazing years of marriage and 2 beautiful children later I am still extremely happy.
9. Share with our readers, what you feel that has contributed to you being a successful business professional, loving partner and a caring parent.
Know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses and learn to love yourself just as you are. Learn to accept compliments and criticism equally and you can capitalise on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Understand your priorities too and communicate them clearly. My kids are my number one priority and I work around their wellbeing and nurturing them to be the best of themselves.
10. What is your favourite hobby and why?
Besides shoe shopping and my shoe collection, I really love words, whether it means reading or writing.. 11. Your message to our young unemployed youth in South Africa. What can they do differently to earn an income? My favourite quote is by Intel Founder Robert Noyce and it says “Don’t be encumbered by history – go and create something wonderful”. Do not always dream of things others have thought of and made, but think on your own and begin the process of possibility thinking. What you will enter is the fascinating field of breakthrough thinking and a great future awaits you there.
12. Your message to young career women. Remember, they also want to become mothers and still be loving wives. Know your values and your boundaries very early on and make them your grounding principles. You cannot be everything to everyone and so communicate your priorities to your employer and even your spouse. If you don’t take time to take care of yourself or to pursue your passions, you will not realize your full potential