Doctor Penny Tlhabi is the head of Discovery People at Discovery. She told us more about the ups and down of her job.
What’s your average day like?
Largely, my day entails attending meetings. When I get to the office in the morning, I always prefer to regroup with my entire team in mapping up our strategic objectives for the day before I’m caught up in the day’s rush. The meetings I refer to are usually executive meetings where all business decisions are taken. A cup of coffee usually helps to get me going!
How did you get to where you are today?
I have made the most of the opportunities that have presented themselves to me. I am also obsessed with adding value to effect positive change. I am not afraid to take risks, something which to me is symbolic of boldness and courage. I am a firm believer in God and good fortune.
Best part of the job?
It’s the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. The People practises and systems we put in place have influenced the design of our corporate culture. I am a member of the Discovery Holding’s Executive team where I am afforded the opportunity to influence business direction – primarily the quest is to be a force for social good. Just like we have found innovative product solutions that impact positively in the lives and health of our members; we want to extend this business philosophy to broader society through sustainable social initiatives.
In my job you need to...
...be passionate about people and know what gets them performing at their peak. You also need an appreciation and understanding of the role played by business in society.
What advice would you give young women who want to follow in your footsteps?
It is important for women to find a role model whose traits they admire. These are not necessarily mentors in the traditional sense of the word rather entrusted people whom they are inspired by. These people can be used as sounding boards and young women can learn from their feedback. Also, you will be exposed to their networks which will in turn provide scope for you. This is a pay-it-forward approach I think all women should strive to adopt.
What do you think the future holds for women who want to make it in the professional environment?
It does look promising as we are now seeing more women influencing critical areas of business. Also, many organisations like Discovery have realised that women now hold many roles outside of their careers and that in order to perform at their peak within the work environment, they have to adequately respond to other aspects of their lives.
What is the one thing you are most proud of?
Choosing to work for an organisation like Discovery has been my best career decision to date. This is an organisation that is true to its values, a trait that parallels my own way of life – to be authentic to what I believe in. Personally, my two daughters have grown up to make me feel proud as a mother. They give me immense joy and hope. Growing up from humble beginnings in the province of KZN, my parents taught us the sustainable value offered by an education. This was also my motivation to enroll at Med School. My folks also taught us to pay service to people in return for blessings.
What do you still hope to achieve in your career?
I still hope to grow my knowledge in my areas of expertise. I would also like to see Discovery realise its vision of being a force for social good through sustainable interventions and public/private partnerships whilst putting systems in place that will allow us to liberate the best in our people to continue on this path of success.