1 August 2022

A sisterhood of power

Peace of mind is considered by many as the highest level of success you can achieve. Kovini Moodly believes is important to surround yourself with individuals committed to seeing you succeed and to celebrate yourself because no one truly knows what it takes to be you.

Kovini Moodly grew up in a little suburb south of Durban called Shallcross. She describes it as a nurturing and incredibly close-knit community. ‘In my early days, I drew inspiration from my parents, family, and the inspirational leaders around me who supported and motivated me,’ she remembers.

Passionate about accounting from her high school days, Kovini looked up to aspirational role models within her extended family and community who qualified as chartered accountants. ‘It paved the way for my dreams from an early age. I have always enjoyed impacting and helping people around me. Becoming a CA(SA) has allowed me to further extend myself within professional spaces to impact in a greater way,’ she explains.

Kovini is grateful for every year, every opportunity, and every challenge that helped shaped her into the formidable woman she is today. ‘Our greatest success in life is owning where we come from and how we choose to use it to shape our future.’

She believes completing her articles at Deloitte in Durban set the foundation for her professional career today. ‘In today’s world, CAs(SA) hold diverse portfolios and can lend their skills towards various ventures that can create economic growth and impact South Africa positively.’

After growing up in a small town, moving to a big city like Johannesburg was a huge adjustment for Kovini. ‘But it was also an opportunity to gain a new independent perspective and reflect on my goals and aspirations.’

Based on experiences of others as well as her own, Kovini feels that professional women in South Africa often have to manoeuvre through various challenges such as being undermined, fighting to be heard and experiencing the imposter syndrome (a psychological phenomenon whereby one doubts one’s abilities, skills and value).

Although she knows better now, Kovini was not immune to the effects of imposter syndrome in her earlier career days. ‘I would enter rooms and notice that there weren’t many people who looked like me, spoke like me, or were relatable in terms of their life experiences. It took me a while to own my unique power and feel safe enough to leverage it within large environments. ’It is so important that women who have secured “seats at the tables” make space for new leaders and utilise their voices to drive an impact positive change.’

Throughout her life, Kovini has been fortunate to have been surrounded by powerful female leaders who helped her build her confidence and appreciated her value add across her corporate journey. ‘Eleven years later, I feel comfortable to acknowledge that I am aware of my worth, appreciative of my journey, and optimistic about my future,’ she smiles.

Kovini currently heads up a dual portfolio for Discovery Health as the head of risk management and audit strategy optimisation. ‘The role has allowed me to experience the medical administration space and has further enhanced my risk and audit exposure across the past eight years.’

Before this position, Kovini specialised as an SME in various local and global roles that focused on centres of excellence implementations, cost-optimal models, and organisational design and process optimisation for leading JSE companies, with Accenture South Africa. ‘My colleagues often describe me as an out-of-the-box thinker and a big picture visionary. I have always enjoyed strategic projects as they allow me to impact and visibly affect tangible change.’

Creating a positive change in the world has always been a passion for Kovini, which is why she started the Boss Babes of South Africa initiative. ‘It is a digital skill sharing, inspirational platform aimed at celebrating female leaders,’ she explains. Ever since her younger years, Kovini has felt the desire to give back and serve the community and society in a greater, more meaningful manner. ‘Once I qualified as a CA(SA), I felt compelled to have an impact and share my learnings with others who would benefit from it. When we were heading into lockdown two years ago, I decided to create a digital platform where women could engage, support, and celebrate each other.’

Her aim with Boss Babes was to break down barriers and change narratives around women uplifting each other, as well as to recognise and change stereotypes that women of colour face daily. ‘Being authentic in sharing my own journey allowed others to also feel safe in sharing theirs and a sisterhood of power was formed.’

Being a CA(SA) and having worked at numerous large, leading companies in both South Africa and abroad, expanded Kovini’s perspective on life. ‘My skills in process optimisation, centres of excellence, best practices, and digital strategy helped pave the way for the Boss Babes platform. As a CA within any industry, resilience, integrity, and critical thinking are key attributes toward success. These elements and leveraging my experience assisted in creating an optimal operating model for the platform.’

Kovini hopes to create a sisterhood through Boss Babes – a sense of community where women are passionate about uplifting, supporting, and recognising each other. ‘As human beings, we are multi-hyphenate by nature. Being a multi-hyphenate is not about multitasking. It’s not about having 11 different tabs open. It’s more about dedicating your time to many things that reflect who you are and remembering that you are not defined by just one job title. We're allowed to wear multiple hats, just not all at the same time.’

She has been astounded to observe the incredible women that have come onboard to selflessly offer their time and skills through mentoring initiatives, cross-skilling opportunities, and the various philanthropic ventures that Boss Babes support. ‘There is tremendous power when we choose to uplift each other instead of the opposite. I’m also an advocate of living a life of purpose and embracing my highest self through the journey of life. I believe you have to empower others in order for you to succeed in your professional and private life. Self-development and self-belief is also an important aspect of empowerment and development, especially in this era of constant change, technological advancement is critical.’

Kovini’s pearls of wisdom for other Boss Babes

  • It all starts with knowing who you are. This is the first and most important step to leveraging your authentic self in a way that matters and has meaning, not just for you but for the world and space that you occupy.
  • We are multifaceted human beings. We need to be open to embracing our passions and strengths. We also need to dispel the notion of single ‘streams of happiness’. Filling our lives with various activities and passions that set our souls on fire is the best way to live a fulfilled life!
  • Lastly, never fear! Chase your dreams. They are valid. There will always be naysayers along your path to success. Make sure that you hold onto your vision. Often it’s a vision that only you can see so believe in yourself until it becomes a reality. It will become a reality.

Female Leaders can join the movement by registering on www.bossbabesofsouthafrica.co.za.