Interview with Pride Maunatlala

Celebrating Women’s Month – Part 01

Meet the cheerful, buoyant, confident, positive Pride.

For anyone who has ever met her, this is what a Pride Maunatlala word cloud looks like. She’s an optimist driven by brands and their people – both those who create them and those they’re created for. Pride currently heads up the marketing team at TFG for the Foschini Division – a brand for women by women – designed to inspire confidence in those who are finding their place in the economy and shaping the future. Currently working with TDC&Co on an exciting new development within women’s apparel.

So, where did it all start, and what has led Pride to become one of South Africa’s most influential people in retail?

“I started school incredibly early and started working while I was still at varsity,” Pride says, something she regarded as a challenge early on in her career. “I convinced myself that I needed to behave extra mature and work twice as hard as everyone else to be taken seriously. Not a sustainable model,” she laughs, “I crashed!”

Thinking back on the formative years of her career, she remembers, “I never quite fitted in. My thinking was just always different and corporate felt too slow for me.” But with her silver linings playbook always handy, she looked at the bright side of her sense of otherness. “Ironically, I always felt that I was in the right place – sometimes too early – but definitely in the right place.”

What separated Pride’s level-headed optimism from starry-eyed naivety she did not know at the time, but she went with it. “Only years later, this translated to me being the youngest person on every management team I have ever been a part of,” she says, adding, “and the person people looked to for fresh thinking.”

So, although she started out by swimming upstream, she never allowed herself to feel like a fish out of water. “I eventually learned to just live in the moment and to enjoy this gift. Transforming brands and organisational culture has become my game. Purpose found!”

Like most people, success didn’t come with the flick of a switch. She had to work for it. For Pride, it required a change of mindset – a reconnection with her soul. “I realised that my mind could not function independently of my body and spirit,” she says. “I invested in all three: physical, mental and spiritual health. I started eating more healthily, but I never compromise on good red wine,” she laughs, “I sleep a lot more, I meditate and connect to my spiritual resources.

“I take it so seriously, I don’t even play around with the flu. If I sneeze, I rest. It’s like telling my whole being, ‘I’m here for you!’ That reassurance has made me so confident, I feel unstoppable.”

In Pride’s experience, arriving in the “real world” of work, it’s easy to feel like you should already have everything figured out – almost like it’s set up that way. “This is not a reality,” she says.

“Ignore the voices that push you to choose your absolute career the moment you walk in the door,” she advises, “This will empower you to change your mind without feeling like a failure. Your career – especially as a multitalented woman – is a journey.”

Pride’s advice? “Just be yourself! And if you don’t know who that is yet, be like the person you admire for a while. Keep an open mind. It will help you find pieces of yourself you didn’t know were there before. But most of all, be kind to yourself. Everything you learn will allow you to evolve. Keep the traits that feel right to you and throw the rest away.”

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