Group CEO of Mashobane Group of Companies, Anastasia Machobane, is proving that being selfless in your journey is a positive step towards success

As we sat down for our conversation at the The Grillroom & Sushi Bar in Brooklyn, Pretoria, it was evident that the woman I was about to speak to knew exactly what she wanted—and by that I don’t mean off the menu. Group CEO of Mashobane Group of Companies, Anastasia Machobane, is driven to make her businesses flourish. That’s what she wants, and she is determined to ensure that happens.

That passion is evident, but it is also not reserved for herself. She wants others to feel that passion. She wants others to be driven by passion. She wants South Africa to prosper and the youth to carry the country to the heights we all dream of. For Anastasia, there are no longer excuses, only a vision which will stand her companies, and those who are willing to come along for the ride, in good stead.

After launching Mashobane Advisory Services, it was a natural progression towards the founding of Machobane AM Attorneys Incorporated, given her background in law.

Machobane, is a wife and mom of two boys Katleho (18) and Ofentse (15). She is the fifth of six close knit siblings. She credits her mom Mrs Nellie Motlou for her tenacity and hardworking nature. She is a qualified attorney who studied her BJuris and LLB at the University of Pretoria. She also obtained further qualifications, amongst others, a Diploma in Air (Aviation) Law from IATA in Canada as well as a Certificate in Editing from the University of Cape Town. She is currently in the final year of her Masters in Law.

Machobane AM Attorneys Incorporated specialises in aviation law, ICT law, corporate and commercial law, competition law and governance. After establishing those two arms, the next step was getting a passion project off the ground. As a result, the Mashobane Training and Mentorship Academy was born.

“The aim is to change the world. I want to open doors for people like me who would not have access to the specialised areas of law in which we operate as a boutique law firm,” Machobane says with confidence.

Building the dream and giving back

The key to the success of the Mashobane Group of Companies so far has been the foresight to give clients what they require at a price point which is attractive.

This is done through keeping internal costs low by having a small team of experts ready to pitch in across the board. This has created a tight-knit unit which Machobane can trust implicitly to work at the best possible levels.

“We all multi-task, which makes us a very lean, but highly effective team. What we want to do is to pass on this value to our clients. We are nimble with high impact,” she says.

With a team of five, some might say launching a third arm of the group was crazy, but for Machobane, the need to give back and uplift those around her has always been the plan. Thankfully, she now has the platform to make this a reality.

“The mentorship programme is very close to my heart. It doesn’t only focus on the legal side of things, we have mentees in all fields; science, HR, and marketing, because knowledge is knowledge, skills transfer is skills transfer. Most of our mentees are quite young and some not so young, we do not discriminate based on age or gender. The workplace can be something else if you don’t have anyone to guide you on how to navigate corporate culture. We have a formalised programme which we introduced to the mentees and we use this format to allocate how we spend time with the mentees. I mean, I love what I do so much that I mentor at any time, including Saturdays and Sundays, I am always just a phone call away. Another add-on to the mentorship, are the webinars that take place every second Thursday morning, where we invite thought leaders to address various topical issues.”

Machobane was introduced to the concept of mentorship twelve years ago by her mentor, Ms Cheryl Carolus, all her mentor ever asked of her is to pay it forward. Which is what fuels her passion.

In another effort to give back, Mashobane AM Attorneys Incorporated has a soft spot for SMMEs. She one day hopes to be able to offer this service pro bono.

“We take care of SMMEs because they do not always have access to specialised legal advice. As an example, with the POPIA in effect, there are more compliance requirements that cut across the board and compliance requirements are onerous. SMMEs will not be able to comply without proper legal assistance,” she says.

Upskilling the nation

From July 2021, the Mashobane Training and Mentorship Academy will be able to offer certified qualifications to go along with their mentorship programme. The training will focus on supply chain management governance and meeting administration. This will be another huge win for Machobane and her quest to bring about positive change in South Africa.

“Proper corporate governance is a big problem in South Africa. As a governance expert, I find that we can address many of these issues by educating people upfront as to what it is to be an ethical and informed director. It is also important for company secretaries to understand what their role is in ensuring proper governance,” Machobane says.

The training will follow a holistic approach, with everyone from senior management, executives, directors and company secretaries afforded the opportunity to upskill themselves. Machobane, who is also an editor, joked that the misspelling of words really irks her, so the goal is to ensure that people not only follow the correct procedures and rules, but they are also able to articulate themselves with confidence.

But why should people sign up for these training courses, given the plethora of options out there? Machobane was quick to respond to this question with passion.

“It comes down to our approach. Our approach is to add value, leave our trainees with tangible information and skills which they can use going forward. We also have post-training engagements that we offer to our trainees. We use experts with real local and international experience and in these fields. We will do everything in our power to make sure that we transfer skills,” she adds.

Growing into her role and beyond

It has not been easy establishing three companies under one umbrella. Challenges faced are access to funding, with traditional banks not being willing to fund start-up businesses when they do not meet 100% of their lending criteria. It was tempting at most points to close shop. Machobane has had to learn a lot while on the job, but insists that it all boils down to ethics, excellence and integrity at the end of the day. Her value set is what is contributing to the success of her endeavours.

“I have learnt how to be a good leader from bad leaders. I have learnt how to stand my ground and speak the truth. It doesn’t matter at what cost it comes. I have walked away from high level positions because I was uncomfortable. With all of that knowledge, being a Christian, and believing that you need to always make sure that you can sleep with your conscience at night, I modelled these companies with the values of ethics, integrity, and excellence,” Machobane says with pride.

Sadly, women in leadership positions are to this day not looked at in the same light as men. That reality, as archaic as it sounds, is slowly being broken down bit by bit, with leaders like Machobane at the forefront of that revolution. It is going to take more time for the rightful equality to be found, but the strides being made are encouraging.

Machobane, though, is a trendsetter and wants to be remembered for her contributions to the lives of others, rather than ever being compared to what else is out there. This approach is something she wants to instil in others too, with that change as important as any other she may make in her career.

“I believe in making a change and making a difference. If young people can see that you can come from nothing and actually work your way up to be somewhere, where you know other people can aspire to, that is the goal. It is all about hard work, self-belief, and just knowing that you are meant for more.

“So, as a female leader I know the importance of blazing the path. It is difficult, but it is just learning and building on what has already been done, replicating and improving on it, opening up spaces, giving people opportunities, and connecting them to the right people. At some point, the scales will balance and women will feel much more welcomed and comfortable in boardrooms, but also in other spaces that are traditionally occupied by men, to literally shine and show their worth.”

The next big step for Mashobane Group of Companies is expanding into Africa and beyond. “We already have a client, inq. Digital, a pan African cloud-based digital service provider with operations in more than seven African countries.” While the former is a long-term goal for the group, Machobane has never been one to shy away from dreaming big.

“We want to have a strong international footprint globally, because we can do it, there is nothing that stands in our way. We will do so by completely differentiating ourselves,not focusing on any competition, by being that outlier and occupying spaces where we’re not expected.

“The short-term vision is to establish an incubator for unemployed law graduates and paralegals where they can be placed with law firms to get training on the job. A legal incubator is really something that is very close to my heart and the team also shares this vision,” Machobane concludes.

Machobane is proving that leadership is so much more than just about the individual. It is about uplifting those around you and giving those who need it a chance to show their worth. We applaud her for this and can clearly see that the goal of world domination is a reality waiting to happen.