#LLAInterview Kathelo Paballo: Author and TedX speaker

Tell us about yourself.
My mother is a teacher, and my dad is a correctional officer. Their values are rooted in social engagement and philanthropy. As such, I have followed in their footstep and am honoured to be recognised as an award-winning philanthropist by the Gauteng province. I recently qualified as an actuary, a journey that has shown me how resilient I am and how optimistic I can be in the face of hardship and adversity. I am passionate about women’s empowerment; hence you will often find me doing talks on women’s empowerment as well as women in leadership.
Kathelo Paballo
A young female author we see, why writing?
Empowerment is not about holding everyone’s hand. It is about equipping as many females as possible to accept their authentic selves, find their purpose and use their voices to advocate for the issues that are important to them. During my leadership and empowerment journey, I wrote and published my book ‘Breaking the Glassing’. It is a lifelong journey that women can use to get clarity on what they want and take the necessary steps to overcome this glass ceiling (definition: an invisible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions). One of the chapters speaks to lifting as we rise, and through writing, I hope to share light on females that they are worthy and capable and can all be in leadership positions. Whatever leadership looks like, we need to accept that it is different for each of us, and as women, we are not competing but rising together.
They say that “women best express their thoughts through writing” what do you think about that?
I believe women are true leaders; we adapt given our context and environment. George Patton once said that a leader must be an actor. This means that even as introverts, women can come to the table and make our voices heard. This means that even as emotional beings, we as women can leave emotions at the door and use logic and analytical thinking to negotiate for someone we feel has been challenging. Writing is an art, a means of telling the world how beautiful and wonderfully made we are, yet such fragile and vulnerable beings. I believe women should write more. Write more and journal more as this clears our minds and opens us up to receive what God has planned for us. We often use social media and long texts to pour out our feelings to strangers. However, I would like to plea to ladies to use this passion and feelings to tell stories, write songs and narrate books that will last the tale of time.
What are your thoughts on how difficult it is for black women to implement their ideas in their workplace?
As black women, we need allies, and we need sponsors. I had seen many black females bring their own tables when they were not given a seat at the table. We must be resilient in the face of discrimination and actions like macroaggression. Yet, we must understand that being authentic means not always having to be strong. With allies and sponsors on our side, the race is better paved than how it was historically. People tend to gravitate to those that look like them. So as black females, we need to bring our table, fill it with other competent, qualified black females and lift as we rise so that the next generation of black leaders start on a positive instead of fighting the injustices that we had to face where our ideas are echoing in what appears to be on empty room and only when someone who does not look like us says it.
As a motivational speaker, would you say that TED Talk works well for the GenZ generation?
TED Talks are essential to every generation. Their ethos is to share ideas that are worth spreading. They give a platform for females like myself to use our voices and tell stories we want to hear. In my Ted Talk, I speak about how we, as women, should stop sabotaging ourselves. Easier said than done; however, hearing someone who looks like you share their story of how they did everything in their power to sabotage themselves somehow changes your narrative because you get to understand that you are not in there by yourself. You get to gain insights from those that have come before you, and with this blueprint, I hope that you do not make the same mistakes or fall into similar traps. We do not know what we do not know. However, the more we know, the more we realise we don’t yet know. So to the genZ, you have no excuse not to know the tales and inspirational stories of those that have come before you. View their talks and take what you need. Leadership and empowerment are about phases. Each time to listen, you gain the knowledge you need for that specific phase.
What’s the most interesting part for you as an author and public speaker?
I am passionate about coaching and often use mentorship and empowerment as an influencer style. I am introverted but can stand in front of a crowd and present like a pro. All this because, as someone who wants to see females develop into their most authentic selves and take up leadership roles, hearing a pearl of two of wisdom is much more valuable than being an observer in the background.
So asides from writing and motivating people, what else do you love to do?
I am an actuary and currently head of the financial reinsurance team for the largest reinsurer globally. I love what I do because I help organisations and their executives create strategies to remain solvent. This means they can pay policyholders when a claim occurs because they have sufficient capital. My job is flexible yet challenging because every organisation is unique and hence has different needs; as such, every solution is tailor-made to each one. This makes my job fun because it is so meaningful.
Recently I started cycling. My longest ride has been 60km. Cycling is dominantly a white male sport; just watch Tour de France 😊. For me, this is another platform to showcase black excellence. We, as black women, are bold and brave yet gentle and vulnerable. We have what it takes to move mountains. We should stop waiting for others to approve of us or invite us in. Our voices can only change lives if they are heard. Break that glass ceiling and take up your rightful place as a leader in every aspect of your life, i.e. work, home, wealth and health.

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