- My life story
- The Neno Natural Business
- How I balance work plus being a wife and soon to be mother
- My business plans for the future, etc.
Woven Musings: Heather, you certainly break all the stereotypes – from being a graduate in Economics from Cambridge to an investment banker who is now an author and blogger dedicated to afro-textured hair and business solutions; how did that happen?
Heather Katsonga-Woodward: Lots of hard work! It is very true that the harder you work, the luckier you get. When I was 11 years old I went to what was the best boarding school in Malawi, Kamuzu Academy.
As I was a few weeks late everyone had already bonded and I struggled to make friends so I made fast friends with my books. I did eventually make good friends but by then I had already started to enjoy studying and I worked my way up from a B/low A student to an A* student. It took almost 3 years before I consistently only got As. It showed that hard work does pay and the people at the top don’t have to stay there.
For Cambridge I applied for the Barclay-Smith scholarship. It’s awarded to one Malawian every two to three years depending on academic results. The scholarship administrators required me to get at least 3 As at A-level to be admitted so that is what I did.
As for banking, in 2004 when I was applying for internships the Careers Office in Cambridge pretty much told me I had a low chance of getting a job in banking because I was an immigrant and they would rather employ someone who doesn’t require a visa. I never went back there for advice! I learnt as much as I could from my friends who already knew what banking was all about and I got myself a banking career coach. The result was an internship and later an offer at Goldman Sachs, the investment bank EVERYONE wanted to get into. I felt so extremely blessed. I learnt that ignoring discouragers – or perhaps “realists” as they might see themselves – is the best life policy.