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Dr. Palesa Mahloele Munzara is a Marketing and Diversity Consultant who works with organisations to create awareness around Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. Think: building customised tools to foster inclusive spaces specific to the organisation, and creating inclusive marketing strategies and roll-out plans.

She chats to Go Hustle about championing this important cause… And dishes valuable career advice for those interested in the industry. Notepads out!

But first, how it all began…

Palesa’s professional background is in Brand Marketing. “My marketing career allowed me to work across very diverse teams and cross-culturally,” she says. “I spent some years working with teams across Eastern Europe and the Middle East and most recently across the continent – West Africa, East Africa and in the SADC region. And I loved it!”

She didn’t actually plan to work in the DEI (Diversity, Equality and Inclusion) space, but her penchant for working with and learning about diversity in the workplace led her to pursuing her PhD in Critical Diversity Studies with a specific focus on Race and Gender. And the rest is history.

READ MORE: Career Advice From The African Union’s Youth Ambassador For Southern Africa

Interested in the industry? Here’s how to get in…

While getting a DEI-related qualification is the most direct route, it’s not the only way. You can get a foot in the door through internships, or pivoting your career into the space. “LinkedIn is an amazing resource to network, find career opportunities and join groups with the same career and business interests that you have,” says Palesa.

Here are a few more great tools and tips to help you along the way…

Establish solid networks

One of the greatest difficulties for women in my industry is creating the right networks and connections, explains Palesa. “Once you’ve established a solid network, it becomes easier to get more work and start building a reputation through showcasing your abilities. It’s the networks that help you get the opportunity to show what you can do,” she says.

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Be intentional about your work

“Ensuring that at every given chance I communicate what I do and what I would like to do more of has helped me overcome many challenges,” says Palesa. Some of her greatest opportunities have come from the most unlikely of places and people. “It’s important to be vocal and clear about your ambitions at all times. Take time to define what these are so you’re able to articulate them when the opportunity arises,” she adds.

Top money-saving tip?

Start saving as soon as possible! It is never too soon (or late) to start saving, says Palesa. “I would have told my younger self to save even when there is nothing specific to save for,” she says. “When an opportunity comes along to invest in something meaningful like a property, spoil yourself with a trip or make a big purchase like a car, you want to have a nice savings pot to tap into.”

Words of wisdom for the next generation

Be vocal about your needs, says Dr Palesa. “For change to come, we need to push for it ourselves. We need to be relentless in our pursuit for what we need in the workplace and society in general,” she concludes.

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