With the right mindset and the right amount of determination, you can achieve any goal you set yourself, reckons alumna and trainee planner, Emma Mashilo. She believes her studies at the University of Pretoria laid a firm foundation for her future plans and ventures. She believes her studies for a BCom in Supply Chain Management and an honours degree in Business Management at the University of Pretoria laid a firm foundation for her future plans and ventures.
Q: You’ve been in your career field for about a year and you’re still training. What does this entail and what are the most rewarding aspects of your current position?
A: My current position as a trainee planner at a retail clothing chain is multifaceted in nature. Simply put: planners are responsible for forecasting sales at store and product level for the upcoming seasons with the objective of developing a buying plan for the upcoming season. During seasonal trade, it is also the planners’ responsibility to manage trade by evaluating what's working and what's not - and reacting in a suitable manner.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you so far?
A: My studies at UP have been most impactful in terms of how they shaped my thinking, particularly from a strategic point of view and how it fostered a solutions-based approach to problems. These two elements were fundamental in my studies and have been most valuable in my current position.
Q: Were there any person/persons who played a meaningful role as mentor(s) in your life?
A: There is no specific individual who has played a meaningful role in my life, however, the training programme I am on, is strongly grounded and built on receiving support from other experienced planners. One receives an extensive amount of support from a number of individuals and trainers who have been fundamental in me gaining the necessary skills and progressing in my career.
Q: Given your studies and academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
My advice is specifically for students who are on an extended programme or did not get into their desired degree: with the right amount of determination, you can progress to wherever you want to be! I started my journey on the BCom – Extended programme at the Mamelodi Campus and managed to work my way up to graduating
at the level on which I set my sights. I hope that my story helps to encourage these students, showing them that it’s possible to achieve any goal that you set yourself. .
Q: What really inspires, motivates you personally?
A: My background and family have been fundamental in pushing me to want to do better, be better. I am the first in my immediate family to obtain a university education. I was determined to defy the odds and in doing so, set a precedent for the upcoming generation. My drive now has shifted to building my career and improving the quality of life for my family.
Q: What is the ‘golden guideline’ in your life, in other words, what keeps you on track?
A: My strong focus on my studies during my time at UP fostered a significant amount of discipline, which developed into a habit. It meant studying when I didn't always feel like it. It’s learning to move past how you feel to get things done. I still apply the same mindset now. It can be challenging, but if you don't want to be mediocre or complacent with the bare minimum, discipline is essential.
Q: Going forward, what are your career, personal goals?
A: I would like to give myself the opportunity to progress in my career. The idea of furthering my studies is not completely out of the question. In fact, I would like to pursue my master’s degree in the next couple years with the objective of hopefully applying those skill sets in my own business/establishment – my ultimate goal.