Seasoned and highly qualified Chief Financial Officer, Relebohile Malahleha (CA) proves that anything is possible if you keep your eyes fixed on your goals
Olympic Gold Medalist, Heather Mitts once said, “Tell me I can’t, then watch me work twice as hard to prove you wrong.” Similar words were once uttered to Relebohile Malahleha by a friend, implying that Accounting was a difficult subject to pass but with her will and determination to Defy Limits, today she is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Avis Budget Southern Africa, a division of Barloworld Automotive & Logistics.
With aspirations of saving lives to the reality of crunching numbers
With her roots embedded in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape and Maseru in Lesotho, her grand-parents played the most influential role in the person she is today, instilling in her qualities of being a fighter and working hard to attain what she wants. The independent non-executive director sits on multiple NGO boards as changing the world and walking in Mother Teresa’s shoes is something she aspired to be while growing up - improving the lives of those in need. The path she had set her eyes on to change the world was medicine, compelling her to undergo a bridging course at the University of Transkei (now Walter Sisulu University) as she acquired her grade 12 certificate from Lesotho. She selected BCom modules in her bridging course, unaware that this move was the first chapter to what would be her reality two decades later. Passing her bridging course with flying colours is an understatement for someone who, to this day, exudes absolute confidence and understands her inner potential. She did so well that she was allowed to leap to her second year of study without doing her first year - further affirming that with hard work, nothing is impossible. The married mother of many is inspired by her children and husband who is also a Chartered Accountant.
“They encourage me to be the best version of myself. I am truly grateful to have a supportive family.”
Finding a thrill in solving problems
Relebohile boasts of extensive financial experience, having previously worked at KPMG accounting firm where she was a partner in advisory for seven years and at the National Treasury of South Africa as a Chief Director: National Accounts. Her experience ranges from technical, public sector, motor vehicle, aviation, education, FMCG and telecoms industries through working with an array of clients over the years.
Her current four years tenure as CFO at Avis Budget Southern Africa includes amongst others, oversight of finance as well as developing and implementing the finance strategy within the organisation. “I support and lead the team in the management and utilisation of funds, reporting, setting and measuring targets as well as alerting the business of any risk of non-performance.” Relebohile enjoys working in a performance-driven environment, where finding solutions has become the norm.
Passing on the baton
She notes that she has always had a natural bias for women, mainly because she believes that her success is theirs and vice versa. She also thinks it is a natural hand over process as she has had strong women as models, her mother and grandmother. “In every phase of my life, I’ve always empowered a woman. Currently, I have two females which I am mentoring and sponsoring. One of the ladies that I mentored became a Regional Manager within Avis Budget”. She highlights that she focuses on her mentees’ career growth and accelerating their personal development.
Relebohile singles out understanding one’s purpose in life, being ambitious and bold while chasing dreams as recipes to success. She maintains that the road will not always be smooth, however people should never lose sight of their end goal. She always goes out of her way to prepare her mentees for the different career levels which lay ahead of them, placing emphasis on having exceptional communication and networking skills. “The moment one gets to a certain level in their career, it is no longer about what they can actually do, but more about interacting and influencing people to do what is required, be it clients, employees or board members”.
Relebohile highlights that Finance is a very competitive environment with often passionate individuals and as such, one needs to work hard, believe in themselves and ensure that they are two steps ahead of the rest. She concludes by encouraging young women to be steadfast in what they want as they Go for Gold.
“The world is your oyster. The longest route may sometimes yield the best results for you. If Accounting or any profession is your passion, study and go all the way. There is no point in ending half-way – be a Chartered Accountant, a Managing Partner in a law firm, be a Specialist Doctor or Surgeon or be the Chief Executive Officer of a corporate company”.