The 2018 Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss Award honours inspiring businesswomen who empower, support and encourage female creativity and leadership. When it came choosing judges, we looked for women embody those very same elements, and found these ideals in Yolanda Miya.
Her career at Deutsche Bank spans over 15 years, during which she has fulfilled many roles such as equity sales specialist, director and co-head of the SA equity sales team, head of the public-sector coverage within the corporate finance team, MD, and today the head of financing solutions group.
As one of the five judges of the 2018 Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss Awards, we sat down with her to find out more about her professional journey.
Drawing from your own past experiences - can you provide any words of wisdom to women who are gradually climbing the corporate ladder in companies that are still predominantly led by men?
My take is that the gap lies in the “how” to change this, rather than “why” should we change it. My experience over the years has been that a work environment that prejudices women is not necessarily a result of deliberately acting “against” the needs of the minority but often an environment that reflects the behaviour of the majority. For example, male colleagues don’t go out drinking or watch rugby with their male clients because they want to spite their female peers – they do it because they enjoy it, but in the process, we as females often feel left out as we sometimes cannot relate. There is therefore a need to first see the issues for what they are, then secondly, create an awareness of the things that we believe are not aligned with our progress in organisations, then educate and lastly, together with our male counterparts own the responsibility of changing the narrative.
Is there a particular quality - within either a professional or personal sphere - that you are looking for in the 2018 Elle Boss Award Winner?
There are lot of qualities one would look out for in the candidates but for me personally, given where we are as a country, integrity has become one of the rarest qualities we see in leadership both in corporate and in government. Knowing that someone prides themselves on doing what is ethically right, and not only what is allowed, will be set apart in my view. Our country has regressed because of leaders that lack integrity and that has become a critical quality [to look for] if we are to rebuild as a country, which I believe we are.
In an interview you did for DESTINY Magazine in May 2018, you showed you valued being a mother and a grandmother. What is the one lesson that you have learnt from them that has helped shape you into the woman you are today and that you will always carry with you?
I was brought up by my late grandmother and both her and my mother remain my role models and the strongest women I have ever met. They taught me the principle of tenacity and resilience. My grandmother used to say that you can never be beaten by something that does not speak (an isiZulu saying) and that is exactly the approach I took with my academic and sports achievements at school, right through to my studies at university and ultimately to the workplace. It does not matter how challenging a situation can be – if it is inanimate and cannot speak back at you, you have the upper hand. I never ever forget that principle.
What is your view on the concept of failure?
I have always felt that the word failure is an unfortunate one because it is so finite, and does not represent the true essence of the concept. Nothing should ever end with failure because failure should be penultimate to success. It is absolutely true that if at first you don’t succeed, then lift yourself up and try again. We should celebrate and encourage those who try until they get it right because not trying for the fear of not succeeding is in fact failure.