Faith Mangope was studying at the University of Texas in Austin when she received a call from the White House asking her to write and recite a speech about the development of the African continent. She was told that the president at the time, Barack Obama, had specifically asked for her. She was just 26 years old and didn’t have the qualifications many of the other candidates had.
This catalysed a chain of events that resulted in her founding the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute, a school that teaches South African women the skills required to find work in a fast-paced world governed by the internet and ever-evolving technology.
“That moment was specifically orchestrated so that I could deliver a certain message about where we are as a continent and where we have potential to be,” she recounts.
It was later, during a talk that she was giving to a group of matrics, that Mangope was struck with the realisation that for South Africa to reach its full potential, she needed to change the face of education. The schooling system needed to grow from a place of constant catch-up to one of intentionality, where children learn skills that fit the requirements of the 21st-century workplace.
Mangope realised the need for an amendment to the curriculum. In order to find gainful employment that benefits both a community and an individual, it is important to know how to think logically and systematically, but also critically, she says.
One needs to know how to solve puzzles within a limited timeframe, and have confidence in one’s ideas and solutions. Mangope’s institute teaches exciting new developments in the world of technology, while also preparing girls and women for collaboration and leadership.
Mangope believes that this is her formula for success: Adaptability = IQ (intelligence) + EQ (empathy) + CQ (creativity) + SQ (spirituality). To adapt and thrive in any chosen workplace, one needs to have a balance of each quotient, she says.
Intelligence is built from a practice of problem-solving, assessment and the ability to analyse and draw conclusions. Emotional literacy is crucial in understanding cultural norms, communication and collaboration. Keeping in touch with one’s creativity breeds innovation and growth, while spirituality nurtures the connection we have with ourselves and our communities.
Mangope believes that an understanding of the self is crucial for success.
“Content is great, but it doesn’t make you an asset. For that, you need agency. It is this self-actualisation, the understanding of who you are in a community, that allows you to be a valuable team member within a diverse space.”
When asked what advice she would give to a woman trying to find her place in the working world, her response is: “Seek your passion. Find what moves you. Look inward before looking outward. Do research and travel. Get exposure and an understanding of the wider world.”
With each year that passes, the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute is irrevocably improving the lives of more and more South African girls, helping to create a nation of formidable women.