Despite a busy life as a mother, wife, businesswoman, speaker and writer she still finds the time as Mrs Gauteng 2021 second princess to plough back into the community to empower and inspire others, especially women and young girls.
Mahadi Buthelezi is not only group CEO for RB Property Group and Fund and CEO of the Catholic Business Forum, but she is also a member of the UN Women SA and The Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities’ generation equality and the faith-based organisation’s national task team.
A mouthful and also a handful if you take into account that she is also involved with humanitarian work through the Mrs Gauteng pageant and she still finds time, together with her husband, Robert, to raise four children.
We catch up with the Bedfordview businesswoman to chat about life in general and those things that drive and ground her.
On a personal note
‘I come from very humble beginnings where my mother, Lerato Khumalo, was a dressmaker and my father, Simon Khumalo, was a lab technician and a boxing trainer during his spare time.”
Mahadi is the youngest of five siblings and said that although she was the last born, she was not spoilt and instead felt her parents were the hardest on her.
She said she grew up in a strict but loving environment where she was active in dancing, roller skating, running and joining township beauty pageants since she was about 13 or 14.
‘That interest fell through after meeting my boyfriend who later became my husband of 27 years.
‘I have a beautiful imperfect family. Our home is filled with love and respect for each other. Like any other family, we are not perfect and coach each other along the way.
‘This is the accomplishment that makes me the proudest … making it against all odds when my mother told me that I would amount to nothing.”
Finding the balance
Being a wife, mother and businesswoman is busy enough for many. Yet, Mahadi finds time to reach out to others on many different platforms. We asked how she manages to fit all of this in her busy days?
‘I start my day with a prayer – a prayer for peace, calm and strength. My energy somehow flows well when I am at peace and have prayed. Helping people comes as second nature to me. I just love people and being creative.’
It is this humanitarian side of her that resonated with what the Mrs Gauteng pageant stands for.
‘I entered for a variety of reasons. Mainly to show that anything is possible. Also, to shatter the glass ceiling about weight and age.
‘I also believe pageants are still relevant. The way they are being perceived needs to change though as they can contribute positively to the dignity of women.
‘Mrs Gauteng seeks to encourage women to step forward and make a difference, equipping the destitute in the community to become self-sustainable. ‘Our focus is those suffering in inhumane conditions and, in particular, the children who cannot change their circumstances or the cycle of poverty into which they are born.’
She is currently working on an alumnus-focused project for her old school, Immaculata Secondary, in Diepkloof, Soweto.
‘My contribution is being done in consultation with the school about where there is the most need and what will have the highest impact,’ she explained.
Chatting about her career, she said there is just one vision and mission she works by and that is ‘Carpe Diem’.
‘Being the CEO of RB Property Group and Fund and the CEO of the Catholic Business Forum means my job is very demanding as I have to attend a variety of meetings, ranging from potential clients, project managers to professional teams, and at times, I have to visit our national sites that we are developing.’
Nothing gives her more job satisfaction than handing over complete projects and seeing clients and their professional team happy to have achieved what was assigned to them.
But it is not all that easy.
‘It is still predominantly a man’s world. Having to constantly prove yourself has been the hardest in the 21 years of being in the property development business.
‘Then, there are the challenges where you work with people who do not respect and meet certain deadlines. I always try and be calm, even though it is not easy. I try and ensure that the result is indeed met.’
The CEO was quick to answer what motivates her in her career – the fact that she is not doing it for herself, but for women and the youth in South Africa.
And will she choose this career again? ‘I would because I am proving to many women that one can still make it and be successful in a man’s world. Set your goal, focus and go for it.’
- Do you prefer rain or sunshine?
I love the rain.
- Indoors or outdoors person?
- You can be bribed at any day or any time with …..?
Chocolate. I have a delightful weakness.
- Wardrobe must-haves?
Black number with matching shoes.
- Your favourite movie and why?
Taken. No one touches my family.
- The word or phrase that best describes you as a person?
Mmasechaba – Mother of the nation.
- Your pet peeves?
Liars and lies.
- Who or what keeps you grounded?
- Favourite spots you visit?
I enjoy, when I have time, visiting my old neighbourhood (Dube) and visiting malls in the Bedfordview area.
- If you can do one thing before you die you would …?
Empower women and young entrepreneurs in their businesses.