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Muziwethu Zwane has been appointed the new CEO of Rays of Hope at a time when the Alexandra-based non-profit company embarks on a new strategic path. Referred to as the ‘Whole Child Engagement Model’, this new strategy will see the organisation take a more holistic approach to empowering Alex’s youth through learning and development support to family care, as well as the provision of psychological services.
Rays of Hope CEO, Muziwethi Zwane
Zwane joins Rays of Hope with a PGDip in Management and an MBA from Henley Business School, a BTh from the South African Theological Seminary, and a solid corporate career history anchored in human resources. Having worked for the likes Media24, The Nissan Group, and Samsung (where he was head of employee relations & general affairs for the African region), Zwane went on to found leadership development and management consultancy, VantEdge HR Advisory, in 2020. He remained a managing partner for the firm until joining Rays of Hope earlier this year.
Here we chat to Zwane about his new role and leadership approach, as well as his vision for the company’s future.
Your career path through HR has seen you work for some impressively big brand names. What has led you from the corporate workplace to an NGO?
This is a totally new and challenging arena for me. Whereas I’m used to the tight systems, structure, (relative) predictability and processes in the corporate environment, this is a different kettle of fish. The focus is no longer on the bottom line, but rather on the impact on lives. This opportunity came at a point in my life where I felt led to plough back while I still have some energy to do so. Having run my own management consulting and training firm, I felt led to enter this space and use my skills to impact society by serving my own community where I grew up.
In what way has your experience in HR with those companies prepared you for your role at Rays of Hope?
The common thread in all I’ve been able to do over the last many years is the focus on human capital development. Whether in HR, corporate affairs, strategy development or management consulting, at the centre of it all has been the passion to develop others. Now I get to drive strategy to development for future leaders of Africa, from toddlers at ECD level right up to post-matric level, through our various learning & development, family care and psycho-social programmes.
I hear you prefer to be referred to as “chief serving officer” rather than CEO – how do feel this better reflects your personal management style?
My ultimate effectiveness as a leader will be determined by the growth, development and impact of the people I lead. By fostering a culture of trust, caring, diversity of thought and valuing people, that will be a way of serving my organisation, staff and the community of Alexandra.
Who are the people who have inspired your leadership approach?
The first person to ever call out the leader in me was an uncle of mine who told me that wherever life takes me, I must always remember I’m called to lead. I haven’t always done justice to this call, but in my moments of detouring, this has often helped me remember who I am.
How would you like to see Rays of Hope grow under your care?
My vision is to see Rays Of Hope become the go-to community organisation when it comes to growing future leaders who can ultimately contribute to a prosperous Africa that can stand it’s ground as a global influencer.
What advice do you have for the aspiring leaders coming up through the organisation’s programmes?
They must remember that not everything is about them. Being granted the opportunity to grow means they should plow back and grow others as well.