Strong Women in Business Series Featuring Babalwa Tanga

Strong Women in Business Series Featuring Babalwa Tanga

Who are you?

I was born in a very small town in the Eastern Cape called Nqamakwe, 2nd of 4 kids and the only girl. I spent most of my junior schooling years in various places as my parents moved around with various jobs.

What do you do?

I am a Senior Business Analyst, currently based on a programme in the financial services industry.

Did you always want to be a Senior Business Analyst?

When I started my career, what was important was a job that would offer financial security.  However, during my first year as a Support Engineer, I saw an ad for a Business Analyst/Change Manager and I remember showing it to my then boss saying, “Now this, is a role I see myself in”. Fast forward to 4 years later and I landed my first BA role on contract. The rest, as they say, is history.

What was the journey like to get to your position?

I started my career as a Developer and moved into a Siebel Configurator role.  After 2 years, I moved into the Support Engineer role mentioned earlier, which was in the tobacco industry.  I believe it is the time spent there that opened doors for me and had me realise just what potential I had.  My boss at the time was also very supportive and encouraged me to take part in development programs within the company.  This urged me to pursue different roles and I later accepted an opportunity at a different organisation.  My career took me through FMCG, Retail, Health and Telecoms – and after 10 years, I found myself back in retail, equipped with the knowledge and experience gained from various roles in different industries. It was then that I landed my first Senior Business Analyst role at a large retail company.   

What obstacles did you face on the way to achieving your career goals?

The biggest obstacle I’ve had to face was being a black female in an industry that is largely male dominated.  It has also been challenging to prove that I was offered roles because I was the best candidate and fit for the role and not as a result of BBB-EE policies. 

Any leader needs to constantly improve and remain relevant

What gives you the edge?

One of my greatest strengths in my role is relationship building… it may sound like a cliché but fostering solid and honest relationships is the best way to obtain support.  In my role it is important to build trust with stakeholders, so as you navigate their landscape, they feel they can trust you with information and be receptive to your suggestions and solution recommendations.

Do you feel that you have to constantly prove yourself in business as a strong woman leader?

Any leader needs to constantly improve and remain relevant in order to be effective in their area of expertise.

What do you value more in your success: Your team or your individual strength?

I think I value a combination of this as no one is an island, even in business, and every team is as strong as the individuals that form part of it.

Be hungry for more and never stop learning

What are your dreams and aspirations?

I aspire to make the path easier for women coming after me… even if just one.  I dream of starting a technology school back home and helping our people find ways to utilise new and existing technology for the betterment of their everyday lives. 

What advice can you give to other women in your industry to help them persevere and succeed? 

Believe in yourself and what you bring to the table.  Be hungry for more and never stop learning.  The best teachers for me have been the people that I have met throughout the journey.  Build those relationships and nurture them.  Lastly, find yourself a mentor.  It’s never too late!