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Taking the scenic path

When Xandra Malapane relocated to Mbombela from Johannesburg in 2003, a move that was only meant to be for three years lasted somewhat longer than expected.

Nearly 20 years down the line, Xandra is still here, a Lowvelder through and through. A powerhouse of infectious, positive energy, she originally hails from Bushbuckridge, the only child of civil servant parents. Her mum, affectionately known as Sister Malapane, was a senior nursing tutor at Masana Hospital, where Xandra attended the crèche before starting school. Primary school was Uplands Prep in White River, where she stayed in the boarding house and enjoyed every minute of it. Her high school years were spent at Kingsmead College in Rosebank, Johannesburg, also as a boarder. Very active in boarding house life in both primary and high school, her love of being around people has its roots in these formative years.

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Xandra’s tertiary studies further shaped this side of her nature. “I initially wanted to become a human resources practitioner. My undergraduate degree was a bachelor of social science majoring in organisational psychology and industrial sociology. However, in my third year the marketing bug bit me, which led me to study for a postgraduate diploma in marketing,” she says. “I have always dreamt of working closely with people, and helping people energises and fulfils me. At one stage I even wanted to be a psychologist.”

As head of human capital at Uplands College, Xandra gets to fulfil this dream of working with people on a daily basis. “My professional career has mostly been in marketing roles across diverse industries, and my training has led to me being able to work closely with various communities,” she explains. “The truth is, this is exactly the role I always imagined myself in, but I took the scenic route to get here!”

As freshly appointed head of Uplands Outreach, Xandra’s brand-new role is even more in line with her core values. “I am so excited to get started on this,” she says. “Being involved and adding value within the community development space has always been my goal, especially within the Lowveld.” Driving the overall performance and leadership of her new post is going to mean working smarter and being innovative. “Uplands Outreach is an NPO that focuses on investing in the improvement of education in selected communities,” Xandra explains. “However, once a marketer, always a marketer. While I may be doing something new, my marketing skills will never be lost – they will instead be incorporated in to add value to my new role.

Xandra, who sees herself as a highly independent, adventurous, caring, carefree and honest person, is definitely up to the challenge. “I love to laugh,” she says. “And I never give up on myself and on others. People who know me will tell you I have a fighting spirit, I have grit. I am curious by nature and love to learn new things. I am a lover of change, deep conversations, beautiful spaces, things and experiences.” Her inspiration comes from her parents and people who never give up, no matter what. “People who live purposeful lives, people who choose to love, to create, and to bring hope, people who encourage and motivate me,” she smiles.

It’s quite obvious she lives life to the fullest, enjoying every minute of it. Not much of a clothes shopper, Xandra prefers to haunt decor shops and nurseries, and is quite happy to soak up the latest trends in homes and gardens. “I can dream,” she smiles playfully, dimples flashing. “My favourite things to do include taking long scenic drives, reading decor magazines and motivational books, restaurant hopping with good company, going to markets, visiting spas and spending quality time with genuine friends. That is why I love White River,” she adds, “I feel at peace when I am there. The good restaurants and artistic spaces are also a bonus.”

Enjoying the good things in life doesn’t stop Xandra from putting her all into her relationships. Still single, she laughs as she says that she always tells people she has a master’s in singlehood, but keeps hope alive as she enjoys her life just as it is. She may be single, but relationships are very important to her. “The most important is the one I have with God,” she says, “followed by self. Then others, in that order.”

This feisty woman’s ultimate goal is to become a successful and innovative professional in the CSI field, making a valuable impact in communities across Mpumalanga and ultimately South Africa. With her winning smile and can-do attitude, we can certainly see this dream also becoming a reality.

Photographer: Tanya Erasmus, Something Timeless Photography

Make-up: MUD Studio Mbombela

Venue: Le Petit Zest

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