The Palabora Foundation’s incoming Director doesn’t like to be in the spotlight; but it’s firmly on her as she takes over from outgoing Director Malesela Letsoalo.
Growing up as the daughter of two teachers, Lerato’s values were instilled at an early age.“Rules and ethics were always a part of my life and they have become my anchor,” she says. Although initially interested in a career in medicine, she fell in love with accounting and its promise of order and structure. “I have evolved though, because as a leader you can’t just be one way, you have to be able to understand, empathise and resonate with all kinds of different people,” she says.
Learning to let people be who they are while doing their job well is something that defines my leadership style. I know what needs to be done, but people can bring their own flavour into the how. it’s this kind of diversity that makes the Palabora Foundation a rewarding place to work.
Having had a varied career with a stint in the South African Prison Service, it was time for a change, and in 2009 she started work at the Palabora Foundation. “Before I got here I didn’t understand how much good people can do. I soon fell in love with what the Foundation does,” she explains.
For Lerato, value is about having a positive impact on people’s lives. She’s excited by the fact that communities have found their voice. “They know what they want and need, and that makes for a lot of stakeholder engagement,” she says, as the Palabora Foundation negotiates its role. “We need to adjust and modify what we do to make sure it’s relevant. For me, listening to our stakeholders is a key driver for our long-term success. We also need to be profit making, and have some innovative strategies in place to allow us to become more agile, and less affected by the impacts of current affairs,” she notes.
She hopes to be able to report on the success of a number of these strategies and market their work more widely. “I’m excited. I want to help people to grow, have a say and be accountable. This team can do a lot”