• New to Investing
  • Invest with Us
  • Our Funds
  • Tools
  • About Us
  • Insights
  • Contact Us
  • Investor type

    Change Country

    M&G Investments

    M&G Investments

    June 2024

    Dolores Mashishi: Board member and visionary leader

    Dolores Mashishi is the newest Non-Executive Director at MandG Investments Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd Board, a role which she took on in September 2023. We sat down with Dolores to unpack her vision in this role, her views on Transformation and pearls of wisdom as an executive coach. With over 30 years of experience, her visionary leadership, commitment to transformation, and advocacy for sustainable business practices exemplify her as a trailblazer in the business world and sets her apart as a catalyst for change and progress.


    Tell us about your background

    I was born in Rustenburg and attended St. Annes Boarding School. I did my Bachelor of Education and honours at the University of North-West (formerly the University of Bophuthatswana) and Witwatersrand, respectively. Over the subsequent eight years, I studied and worked in the USA, where I completed my Master of Science in Education, Psychology at the Eastern Illinois University.

    Upon moving back to South Africa in 1994, I registered and practised as a psychologist for about two years focusing on education and child development covering developmental theories with a special focus in providing this service to those in disadvantaged communities. I did my internship to register as a psychologist at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and at Tara Psychiatric Hospital. This was just as South Africa was transitioning to a democracy and the shift towards integration and transformation was playing out. It was with this new dispensation that one could begin to see the differences emerging in the Rainbow Nation.

    I started working as a teacher and later worked for the Department of Education. While working in the education system, I engaged in career counselling for students.

    From there, I entered the corporate world within the human resources space. I moved into corporate South Africa for a few reasons but due to my curiosity around how the world of economics works. As a country, we are a function of how our economy operates and when it grows, people grow, and the country thrives.

    I am a lifelong learner and later in my career I completed management and leadership professional development at INSEAD in France, as well as the General Management Programme at Harvard Business School at Boston USA.

    During my time at Wits Business School studying the Management Advancement Programme (MAP), I met Professor Nick Binnedel who recruited me to join him when he started a new business school - the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). As a founding member of GIBS, I enjoyed leading a team that designed the post-graduate diploma in Business Administration programme.

    I held executive roles in local and multinational companies such as Altron, Brait Group, Investec, ABSA, Standard Bank, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).

    The diverse educational background and work exposure has equipped me with a multifaceted perspective involved in collaborating with people, insights into how business works, thought leadership, and strategic thinking.

    Working in financial services resonates most with my values as it is uniquely positioned to see South Africa thrive as a nation. I believe that our Rainbow nation cannot thrive when inequalities exist and without economic growth and prosperity.

    Over the years, I have learnt valuable lessons. Firstly, relationships are key, they create opportunities for mentoring, learning, and building a professional network to tap into. Be a lifelong learner in any career path that you take. You must be adaptable cos we live in a dynamic world of work. Secondly, family is important. You need your loved ones around you that will support you and help you achieve your highest potential. And lastly, how to collaborate with other people and stakeholders in the corporate world and fostering an environment for doing so. Relationships are key.

    During your illustrious career, you have spearheaded successful development programmes. What would you say are the key actions required to achieve the desired outcomes?

    There is enormous power in building workplace readiness and resilience through programmes that accelerate our youth getting into employment like graduate development programmes, aimed at providing graduates with practical skills and opportunities for employment. Bridging the gap between academia and the workforce through partnerships between institutions for higher learning, and organisations are critical in building a diverse talent pipeline in the financial services sector, like the M&G Analyst Graduate Development Programme that has been running since 2021. The next critical component to this is retaining this talent after we have grown our own timber. South Africa has a 48% unemployment rate of which 60% of that represents the youth, which is where the focus for any organisation in this era.

    In navigating regulatory challenges and the changing economic landscape, board members must also prioritise skills required for the future. By partnering with educational institutions and bridging the gap between academia and industry, they can cultivate a pipeline of talent in the financial services sector. By offering support for career aspirations and providing alternative pathways for entering the industry and then fostering further education and training in financial services skills development. Further to this, is the approach of widening the scope for job applicants into financial services to disciplines outside of typical CFA, CA, Finance-related courses. There are opportunities for young people, and it is our responsibility as an industry to make these opportunities available and accessible.

    As an Independent Non-Executive Director, how do you approach your role in overseeing the Social, Ethics, and Transformation Committee, and what impact do you aim to make in these areas?

    My overall responsibility as a Non-Executive Director is encapsulated by the Companies Act. In summary, it is to have assurance that the organisation and companies have sound governance processes in place, and that business is conducted in an ethical manner for the benefit of all stakeholders to achieve sustainability. Central to my role is also to support the company to achieve their Transformation goals. I am deeply passionate about working with the concept of organisational transformation. I see it as the transitioning phase for our organisations to achieve the sustainable global path. Through driving positive change within an organisation, it permeates outward into the broader industry and eventually, into the economy. 

    The way I view transformation is through the lens of the ‘intentionality’ around who we are and what we do and why we exist, in other words, our purpose. It is in the intentionality that we adopt into an organisation and going beyond mere compliance with regulations to create a sustainable, representative, and inclusive organisational culture.

    Board members oversee the work the executives are doing providing assurance and lending support through the lens of an industry overview. Moving beyond compliance measures like BBBEE scorecards, EE targets, ESG standards and sustainability matrices encourages a deeper understanding of transformation as a mindset shift from pure numbers to real change. Fostering a culture that values diverse perspectives and unique contributions can drive innovation and success in an organisation.

    As part of the global M&G plc, M&G Investments SA is uniquely positioned to deliver a global investment proposition while harnessing its deep understanding of local clients and markets. M&G is deeply committed to seeing South Africa thrive.

    There is enormous richness in a business like M&G that is going through an evolution and growth phase. The Social, Ethics and Transformation (SET) is a subcommittee of the board which consistently tracks that business is conducted in an ethical manner and that responsible investing is entrenched into the investment process, amongst other things.

    In an increasingly complex business environment, and what specific leadership skills do you believe are essential for success in today's corporate landscape?

    As a business and executive coach, I see a prevailing need for ‘soft’ skills, to be “hard skills.” Skills such as adaptability, resilience, and kindness have become increasingly important in navigating complex business environments. While data and numbers are key in ensuring organisational success, there is a new breed of leaders that are required to take organisations to global heights. These leaders are more purpose-driven leading beyond themselves as they develop and create more leaders. It is almost a new awakening that people are seen as the business after all.

    What would you say is the strategic role of Board level leadership in financial services?

    An independent board member’s influence extends not only to the company but also to the broader industry and societal impact in the communities in which the organisation operates. The strategic role of a board member is merely to bring the voice of the organisation to build the industry impacts.

    In the dynamic landscape of financial services, board level executives play a crucial role in shaping the sustainability of the organisation and industry. Board members are well-positioned to oversee that the executive leadership are delivering on promises. Outside of holding Executives accountable, Board members also play a supportive role in ensuring that diverse perspectives inform executive decision-making, drive innovation, and foster long-term success.

    Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have become paramount in the financial services sector. Board members ensure that organisations address these elements both internally and externally. By championing global prescribed frameworks such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investing, to which M&G is a signatory, board members can guide executives in further incorporating ESG goals into their strategic roadmap with targets and activities to reach them. By holding leadership accountable for responsible investing and societal impact, they pave the way for a more sustainable and ethical business model.

    Importantly, transformation is another key consideration. Transformation of organisations is intricately linked to their long-term sustainability. Board members are instrumental in driving this transformation by aligning these principles with the company's strategic objectives. By recognizing that sustainability relies on factors such as environmental care, governance standards, and ethical practices, board members can ensure the organisation's longevity and relevance in the market. Their role is to bridge the gap between transformation efforts and the core values of the organisation, both locally and globally.

    Navigating the regulatory landscape is another aspect that shapes everyday decision in financial services. South Africa has of the most robust legislative frameworks in the world and the rate of legislative amendments, and the implementation thereof has increased in the past ten years. With it, come a level of industry collaboration with bodies such as the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) and the Financial Services Sector Authority (FSCA) to determine the impact and practicality of these amendments and ultimately help shape an equitable industry for all stakeholders.

    Do you have any words of advice for young professionals entering the world of work?

    I would encourage young people to invest in their personal and professional development, and I cannot emphasise enough that your success is not limited to traditional paths. Creativity and digital world have disrupted these traditional patterns. I always advocate for taking a holistic view of education, recognising the value of skills training, mentorship, and continuous growth in today's evolving landscape. Another key element is that you do not need to wait until you are in a leadership position to start practising or putting into practice your leadership skills.

    Any last thoughts that you wish to leave us with?

    In conclusion, the role of a board leadership in financial services is multifaceted and is evolving. By championing culture, ESG principles, transformation, diversity, and skills development can drive innovation, foster inclusivity, and ensure long-term viability in a rapidly changing world of financial services.



    Did you enjoy this article?

    Sign up for our newsletter