Phuti Mahanyele – Biography Of An Influential South African Business Leader

Phuti Mahanyele

Phuti Mahanyele is a South African business executive and the Chief Executive Officer of Naspers, South Africa unit. Also, she is the former CEO of Shanduka Group. Additionally, she is the founder of Sigma Capital, an investment firm.

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Altogether, Phuti has led several other companies. She is a seasoned business leader with a strong track record of achievement throughout her career.

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Phuti Mahanyele

Phuti Mahanyele Background

Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa was born in March 1971 in Meadowlands, Soweto, South Africa. She was raised by her father after the death of her mother in 1989.

At age 17, Phuti left Soweto to attend the Douglass College, United States (part of Rutgers University). There, she earned B.A in Economics. Also, she earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from De Montfort University, Leicester in 1996. Then, in 2008, Mahanyele completed Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government executive education program “Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century”.

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Phuti Mahanyele Career

After school, Phuti Mahanyele joined Fieldstone Private Capital Group, New York City. Fieldstone was an international investment banking firm which specializes in infrastructure development. There, she rose to the position of Vice president before she was transferred to South Africa’s office of the firm. Next, she worked as the head SA Project Finance at the Development Bank of South Africa.

Subsequently, in 2004, Phuti joined the Shanduka Energy division and worked as a Managing Director. Eventually, she became the CEO of Shanduka Group until she left in 2015.

Shanduka is an investment holding company founded by the President, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa. Later on, she left and served as the executive chair of Sigma Capital, a privately held, majority black-owned investment group.

Then, in 2019, she was appointed at Naspers to represent its local interests in SA. This way, Phuti leads Naspers businesses in operation in SA. She also oversees the newly Naspers unit in SA; Naspers Labs and its SA-focused funding initiative, Naspers Foundry, which invests in tech entrepreneurs.

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Other Positions

In addition to being the CEO of Naspers Ltd, South Africa Region, Mahanyele also sits on the board of several other companies.

Some of which includes;

  • Independent Non-Executive Director, Vodacom Group Limited
  • Independent Non-Executive Director, Gold Fields Limited
  • Chairman, Bain & Company South Africa, Inc.
  • Chairman, Gigajoule Africa (Pty) Ltd
  • Independent Non-Executive Director, Vodacom Pty Ltd, 2019
  • Director, Optimum Coal Mine (Pty) Ltd.,
  • Director, HTN Towers Plc.
  • Board Member, Shanduka Group now, Ramaphosa Group.
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Awards and Recognition

  • Global Young Leader, World Economic Forum, 2007
  • Top 50 women in the world to watch, Wall Street Journal, 2008
  • Most Influential Woman in Government and Business, Financial Services, 2009
  • 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa, Forbes, 2011
  • Rutgers Vision of Excellence Award, Rutgers University, 2011
  • Leading African Woman in Business, Africa Investors, 2012
  • Distinguished Achievement Award by the Douglass Society, 2013
  • Africa Business Woman of the Year, Forbes Woman, 2014
  • Business Woman of the Year, All Africa Business Leader Awards, 2019
  • One of the Most Powerful Women in Africa, 2020

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Phuti Mahanyele

Phuti Mahanyele Quotes

“If we are unable to tap into the talent that is locked within us… We will not be able to deal with many of the issues that the world is facing.”

“When going into business, you should view yourself as a business person – people treat you the way you treat yourself. If you come in feeling at a disadvantage, you are already at a disadvantage.”

“The opportunities are there! Especially in the non-listed side.”

“Despite where we are, we have the ability to bring ourselves to another level when we choose to.”

“What happens in the classrooms today predicts what will happen in our country in the future.”

“Always have good relationships with people. It doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with everyone but it means whenever you engage with people you are positive and it’s meaningful. That’s how I managed to climb the corporate ladder fast.”

“My biggest strength is that I do not fear strength in others, I celebrate it.”

“You cannot change who you are, and so your values need to be speaking to the person which you are.”

“I learned the importance of the detail… You need to be able to do the work nobody else wants to do.”

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Entrepreneurial Lessons From Phuti Mahanyele

Time and Commitment

Despite the little time Phuti spent with her parents, she totally understood the importance of their commitment to her success. She narrated how her parents were able to achieve a lot through hard work and how they ensured that she got a good education.

Today, her parents live, achievements, and death remains a big lesson for her. She learned how never to take time for granted but, be more deliberate with the little moment you have.

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If You Can Dream It, You Can Achieve It

Raised by her father after losing her mother at age 17, Phuti did not let circumstances stop her from becoming the business mogul she wanted to be – a passion she got from her father.

She believes that as long as her father was able to create opportunities at the time he did, then, nothing should stop young minds from creating value, and making headway in modern times.


Despite being one of the few women in business, Phuti has achieved a lot within a little space of time. As a result of her strong achievement record and experience, she was seen as the perfect match for the role at Naspers. This way, she became the first woman and the first black woman to hold such a position.

She believes that as an entrepreneur, you must always see yourself as a business person, and treat people the way you’d want to. Also, she believes that an entrepreneur will experience more crises if you start off feeling disadvantaged.

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