Spotlight on Alumni
UKZNdabaOnline is running a series titled Spotlight on Alumni in which former UKZN students are interviewed about their lives and achievements.
The first alumnus in the spotlight is accomplished author and motivational speaker Mr Phumelela Msomi. UKZNdabaOnline journalist Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer spoke to him.
Q: You’ve used skills and knowledge gained from your BCom Accounting degree at UKZN to help you move into a career as a successful entrepreneur, author and a motivational speaker. What is the secret to your success?
A: The key is to dream. You must have dreams and then every day you do all you can to get closer to that ultimate dream. There will be obstacles in your way but you must realise they are there for your growth and development. Don’t fear or run away from the obstacles - rather look to grow through them. And remember to always follow your passion. Most people make the mistake of following a salary but if you follow your passion, you will never be disappointed.
Q: You started your first business while you were a student on UKZN’s Westville campus – tell us a bit of the story behind that.
A: Although I was an Accounting student, I worked hard running an industrial business as well - I came from a construction background through my family’s business. I handled construction management and consulting. I managed to get work and was supported by engineers to complete projects. I then worked closely with a big construction company in New Germany which gave me an opportunity to do fencing work in a multimillion-rand project. A lot of opportunities came from that work. My business has developed into selling and constructing fencing products for the domestic, industrial and international markets.
Q: What general advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
A: Entrepreneurship is not a vocation – it’s a lifestyle. It is not about what you can get, but who you can become. I encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to make sure that before they start a business, they work on developing themselves. The key to entrepreneurship is personal development because it deals with the source of all your business which is yourself. Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your business and you will find that business becomes a more fulfilling experience.
Q: You’ve been quite involved with philanthropic projects. Tell us about how you give back to the community?
A: I’ve started a scholarship and am currently sponsoring two students from underprivileged backgrounds to go to Durban High School. I also donate to the church and the work of the ministry.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: My plans are to grow the business and get an international footprint. I also plan on speaking to organisations and writing books to assist people to find their purpose in life. And I plan to have a great time doing all this!