Alumna profile: Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

Posted on March 23, 2020

In an ever-changing world, people need to prepare themselves to embark on different careers as they grow older. This absolutely necessitates continuous study and upskilling, believes the former Minister of Public Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who considers herself a living example of lifelong learning.
Q: What positions do you currently hold?
A: Besides being chancellor of the Nelson Mandela University, I’m a non-executive director on the board of Standard Bank South Africa (SBSA), the Standard Bank Group (SBG) as well as the board of Exxaro. I also serve as chair of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA), a subsidiary and expert body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and of the Advisory Council of Mapungubwe Institute of Strategic Reflections (MISTRA).  Then I’m also a member of the steering committee of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute.
Q: Briefly summarise your career since obtaining your Master’s degree from UP, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones.
A: I was a serving Cabinet Minister while studying towards my Master’s qualification (MPA)in Public Administration and served as Minister of Public Service and Administration until September 2008. I subsequently headed up the Global Democratic Governance Practice of the United Nations Development Programme (2009 - August 2013), after which I was appointed special envoy on gender at the African Development Bank (AFDB) in September 2013 until December 2016.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?
A: In order to serve at a senior level at the United Nations and the African Development Bank, I needed a minimum qualification of a Master’s degree. In addition, the focused reading/study/research at UP allowed me to hone my skills and gave me greater insights for both my role as Minister of Public Service and Administration as well as for my other positions.
 Q: Given your academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
A: Never to stop learning! In a changing world (in particular with the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution) people are embarking on different careers as they grow older. This absolutely necessitates continuous study. You don’t end your career at a particular point, you need to develop different careers – of which I’m a living example – and I encourage others to do the same. You’re never too young, or for that matter, too old to study. It’s all about perseverance... continuing doing research, learning, studying. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but set yourself goals that will prepare you for different challenges in life.
Q: Which business/trade-related publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc.) do you enjoy reading?
A: It comes with the territory: whether it is The Economist and the Financial Times or Forbes magazine and The Wall Street Journal, I need to stay on top by following the latest developments, and new approaches to things. I may not agree with all that is said, so I’ll develop my own views around it.
Q: What really inspires and motivates you personally?
A: As I’m always keen on finding different approaches in which to do things, these days I would probably be considered a ‘disruptor’. What always motivated me from a very young age, in both my career and my life, is a thrust towards social, economic and political justice... inclusive economic growth and development that draw on all the talent available in society, both men and women inter-generationally. A desire to ensure that the vulnerable in society – including the children, the disabled, the elderly – are not at risk. 
At the moment, a big issue for me is the importance of sustainable economic growth that will be inclusive and target our youth .  We must build a society that’s free from all forms of violence.
Q: If you could have a face-to-face meeting with an inspiring person – in any domain – who sets an example in transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same, who would that be and what would you like to discuss?
A:  To me, an inspiring person would, for example, be a woman living on the banks of Lake Turkana and engaging with her to understand her personal vision of transforming the world; to sit and talk to a young boy from a place like Djibouti and listen to his perspective of the world; or talking to an elderly person in the Amazon rain forest who has lived through different experiences...
Q: Going forward, what would you still like to achieve?
A: For as long as possible, I would like to tackle the challenge of inequality from an economic, social and environmental perspective. At the same time, I want to play with my the Waterberg where we can just experience the beauty of nature... or just sitting with them at the southernmost tip of the Cape, where the two oceans meet and the waves clash on the rocks... relating my story to them:  that nothing is impossible for them to achieve.
- Author Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
Published by Liesl Oosthuizen

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