A Great Believer In Luck
She changed from mechanical to mining engineering while studying at Wits.
“I was the first black female mining engineer to qualify in South Africa, so when I started my career at a chrome mine in Steelpoort, Limpopo, there were no women underground,” she explains.
Ross quickly learnt mining wasn’t for her. “I took a detour when an opportunity in investment banking opened,” she says. “It was not something I had ever thought about, but it made my world so much bigger. “I’m a great believer in luck,” states Ross. “I find that the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
Her new career demanded technical knowledge of a different kind. “I found myself in discussions about hedges, debentures, cessions and assignments,” recalls Ross. She’s a great advocate of making sure you are technically astute before trying to make your voice heard.
She has also learnt to differentiate between sponsors and mentors. “Women are generally over-mentored and under-sponsored,” she says. “Mentors act as an important sounding board for your ideas and decisions; they broaden your knowledge base and improve your thinking. Sponsors clear the way for you and open doors to opportunities.”
Ross believes banks and insurers need to be aware of the different financial goals women have at various stages of their lives, as well as focusing on the issues that matter most to them, such as dealing with debt and budgeting. “We need to be honest about our realities, live within our means and make our rands stretch further,” she says.
– Celiwe Ross, Old Mutual human capital director