People often say: It’s not how you start but how you finish. Pumza Deti’s life story rings true to this saying. She is now a private banker but it’s her time in the rural areas that taught her the real value of life.
“I’m a rural girl from Mount Fletcher, Eastern Cape. Growing up with my mom and dad and younger sister, and as the firstborn in our family, my childhood was very interesting. Growing up in the rural area with delegated duties for girls and boys meant that I got to do both – in terms of roles played. I’d herd the cows, goats and sheep and still be expected to cook, clean and take care of the household. So I got to experience the best of both worlds.
“I had a mother who saw the value in education, so in between all these duties we found time to be ‘home-schooled’. At the time we didn’t classify it as home-schooling because we were still going to the local school as per normal. But it encouraged me to learn to read and write – complimentary to the learnings at school,” she explains.
Pumza is one of the very few black women in private banking.
“I am a private banker – which means I am a trusted advisor to assist private banking clients with their banking needs. Private banking clients, according to Investec’s qualifying criteria, means people that are earning a minimum income of R750k per annum and have a degree. So I assist these individuals in providing solutions to their banking needs; from home loans and building loans applications to vehicle finance and all other transactional banking needs including providing guidance on savings and investments.
“There are few women, especially black women, in my role. The sector is dominated by white males. It is even worse as you go up to management, there is few to no black female leadership.. As you can imagine, this is quite discouraging,” explains Pumza, who currently resides in Cape Town.
There’s one thing that you can’t deny Pumza and that’s her leadership skills.
“I prefer an environment where I am not fully office-based. So being a private banker allows me to be out there meeting clients and I getting to interact with different people from different industries. My clients come from many different fields from lawyers and accountants to software developers.
“To become successful in this industry, a person must be open-minded, creative and be a people’s person. Analytical and interpersonal skills are a must. One needs to be willing to work beyond the normal working hours because the role is quite demanding.”
As someone who deals with money daily, she gives her two cents on unemployment as well.
“There’s a number of things that can be done to curb unemployment: Government must have a clear structure on how to support small and medium-sized businesses. They must provide infrastructure to conduct business, remove the barriers to entry, and give access to capital. Privatize state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, SAA and such – because a lot of money is used to subsidize these entities, they all are taking money that could be efficiently used to create more job opportunities. Government must stop monopolizing SOEs and consider salary and benefit cuts to government MPs.”
Pumza plans to go back to the rural areas to invest back.
“[In the next five years] I would like to be running a successful NGO, where the focus is on education – specifically rural development and bringing tech ideas such as programming to the rural young guys and girls. Also providing financial literacy, encouraging entrepreneurship to rural entrepreneurs.
“I stand for what I believe in, so people should be willing to stand for what they believe in. It’s also important to embrace your background, because that is unique to you. It is your story to tell. Never be ashamed of what you couldn’t change about your circumstances.”
She concludes with a word of advice.
“It’s important to find something unique about you, something that makes you stand out. Find something that you are passionate about and see if you can find a career that is linked to that. Some people choose careers out of dreams for their parents and not necessarily what they are passionate about. So, it’s important to seek proper career guidance and know clearly what you want.”
Tell us: What inspires you the most about Pumza’s story?