Kereshea Govender, Head of Institutional Business at Sasfin Asset Managers, entered investment banking through a nontraditional interview process.
Her working career began in the industrial sector, transitioning to the financial sector after being identified as a high potential employee, which resulted in her quickly claiming her space in this competitive and dynamic sector.
Her first corporate interview started off with a question that caught her on the back foot. “I’ve always followed a radical policy of honesty and was particularly candid on that day, admitting to my soon-to-be boss that I knew very little about the financial sector. She was quite a visionary though and convinced me that most things could be learnt, but that energy and mental prowess were something special and intangible that couldn’t be taught.”
It’s a powerful statement of what an important role attitude plays in success. “One of the biggest lessons I learnt while I was studying was thanks to my failing a tax exam,” says Kereshea. “This was the ‘lesson’ that spurred me on to claim the successes I knew I could achieve and achieve them I did!”
What you think determines your success
It’s an attitude that Kereshea lives by. “The right behaviour drives the right activity and by default, that’s what drives the right results,” she says. “The behaviour and habits that we foster determine our outcomes.”
Kereshea also believes in affirmations. “I have conversations with myself every day,” she says. “I believe the mind and soul are linked and that if we want to live fulfilled lives, we need to embrace everything we do – the whole journey, even our failures. Positivity makes us powerful, even when we make mistakes.”
It’s not an opinion that Kereshea takes lightly. In fact, it has shaped her whole life. “I started out doing an LLB degree because ‘everyone’ told me that being a lawyer would suit my outspoken personality,” she says. “It took me a year to realise that my passion and competence lay in investments and that my positivity would always come through for me –when someone recognizes your passion, you know that you’re living your values.”
Honesty comes first
Aside from giving everything, she does her all, one of Kereshea’s most steadfast values is to always be honest.
“This was ingrained in me from a young age and something that has only become more apparent through my career in investments. White lies can do real harm. A small lie can seem harmless, but broken trust can be extremely hard to earn back.
“There are so many daily opportunities to choose honesty. You can be asked if you’ve completed a report or returned a call and if you know you’re 95% done or about to pick up the phone it can be tempting to say yes, but the minute you do that, you’re lying. Instead, the honest me will say ‘I’m sitting at 95%. Give me another day and I’ll get back to you.’
“Always know that being honest creates a sense of calmness versus pressure and improves every experience and outcome.”
In her early career in a call centre, she would spend 20 minutes chatting to potential clients because she didn’t settle for a ‘no’. “There is always room for a yes,” she says. “Too many people approach a situation as if it’s already a no, which completely changes the outcome. When I am executing a task, I believe in investing my all into it.”
Kereshea’s views on success stem from deep personal honesty. “I’m 32, single and I’m often asked why I haven’t started building a family. I made choices that have led me to where I am today, and I don’t regret them. I trust my choices as I believe that these choices have paved the way for me to achieve my vision according to my own timeline.
“I think success is about not second-guessing ourselves, being confident and comfortable with our own choices, even if the priorities of our future selves are different to what’s important today. Peace lies in believing in our own personal journey and looking forward to what tomorrow promises.”
Kereshea believes in learning points, not failing points and that no one should ever apologise for who they are, for we walk this earth but once.
“We are 100% in control of how we are perceived, so I always choose to be my true self,” she says. “As a visionary and a proud woman, I invest in people above all else.”