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  • Foto del escritorThe Corporate Reviews

Mahashane Myakayaka

Legal Counsel, Sandvik Mining


Corporate South Africa, like many corporate environments around the world, is competitive and demanding. Hardwork, perservance and grit are what sets one apart and on the right track to success. We interviewed one such rising star within Corporate South Africa.

Mahashane Anneline Myakayaka is an experienced senior professional with a breadth of experience in legal, compliance and corporate affairs in Africa and the European Union. Mahashane is currently a Legal Counsel for a multinational company, where she is responsible for managing and supporting projects, strategic matters, and sales at a global level. Mahashane’s experience also includes being the Head of Legal and Compliance (Africa), where she led the legal and compliance team supporting on various legal and compliance issues and was instrumental in building appropriate processes and ways of working in a wide range of areas.

She recently had an engagement with the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of the Sandvik Khomanani Facility in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event was also attended by His Excellency Ambassador Håkan Juholt of the Kingdom of Sweden. The LIR recently posed a number of questions to her as follows:

A huge congratulations on all your achievements so far. How has your experience as Head of Legal of a multinational company been?

Leading the legal and compliance team supporting Southern, West and Central Africa for five years was truly career-shifting. Collaborating with dynamic executive teams across multiple jurisdictions required that the role not only focus on managing legal and compliance risk but also providing strategic advice, participating in complex problems, and finding creative solutions to the issues that affect the business in Africa. It was also rewarding to develop a team that has become high-performing and world-class.

What are your views on Corporate South Africa? What challenges are there for women in the workplace?

Corporate South Africa has many growth opportunities and fares well compared to the rest of the world. As a region, however, we could be more flexible to allow individuals to make career shifts and not be stuck in traditional roles. In addition, we need to be more radical in driving corporate culture change that attracts and retains talent.

Speaking of women, although there might seem to be some improvement in the representation of women in Corporate South Africa, the progress seems slow. Given the value women bring to organisations, there is a need for more of a concerted effort to not only reach diversity targets but create a culture that clearly shows that we understand the diverse challenges women face and make provision for that.

What should be done to make Corporate South Africa a better environment for women professionals?

We need to drive culture change in organisations to one that fosters psychological safety and allows women to challenge and openly participate in adding value to organisations. It is not enough to reach a diversity target; corporates must ensure their culture is inclusive and engages individuals from diverse backgrounds. As Verna Meyers said, “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”, and Corporate South Africa should work towards inclusion.

What challenges do legal professionals face in Corporate South Africa?

The legal profession faces similar challenges to Corporate South Africa in relation to culture, diversity, and inclusion. Attracting and retaining talent has also become more challenging as many skilled professionals are emigrating outside the region. Of particular interest to me, are the challenges legal professions face in the region that are driven by the wave of economic nationalism in legislation specifically, localisation laws that require (for example) local ownership or local procurement. Legal professionals have a constant challenge to drive confidence in our legal systems and show that there is consistency in how regulators interpret and enforce their powers in this context.

What are your thoughts on the South African legal industry? Any exciting developments? What changes to the legal framework would you wish to see?

I am fascinated by the development of localisation laws not only in South Africa but in the region, and how these emerge in different forms and different industries. It is also interesting to monitor how organisations are responding to these laws to ensure compliance, and even more so, how regulators apply and enforce regulation in different forms. Good examples are how the South African Competition Commission applies its mind to merger reviews following the publication of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition paper on Competition policy for jobs and industrial development; how the Mining Commission in Tanzania interprets the country’s localisation laws as foreign companies work towards compliance; or how the Regulatory Authority for Subcontracting in the Private Sector (ARSP) in the DRC is ramping up its enforcement.

Concerning the changes that I wish to see, there is always a call for consistency and transparency in how our regulators interpret and enforce their powers, to ensure they do not act outside of their scope.

How was meeting and interacting with the President of the Republic of South Africa? Any insights from this engagement?

I had the pleasure of being the Programme Director for the launch of our company facility where the President of South Africa was present and led the team that planned and executed the launch. It was truly an exciting time to see our employees engaging and interacting with the President. I am still in awe of how the Presidency was not only thorough in their planning but also supportive during our engagement. I must mention the Swedish Embassy to South Africa, and the South African Embassy to Sweden for their incredible support in our engagements and for making the launch and the attendance of the President possible.

During the launch, the President reiterated the government's commitment to creating conditions that enable businesses to emerge, grow, and access new markets. The President has previously encouraged businesses to invest in South Africa and has assured of the government's commitment to creating a conducive environment for investment. One key takeaway was the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to drive sustainable economic growth and development, and our company, through the investment in our facility, has been a notable example of committing to investing in South Africa.

What advice would you give young lawyers about Corporate South Africa?

Other than the normal advice of being diligent, and dedicated, seeking out a mentor and networking, I think young lawyers, male or female, must also focus on working on their interpersonal skills. When you work in-house, building relationships and creating trust is crucial to succeeding in supporting and being seen by your business as a strategic partner.

On the personal side, young lawyers must map and plan out their careers and development, and constantly revisit this plan to adjust according to their environment.

Lastly, one thing that has always benefited me, is being curious. Often when you are supporting a business, you need to fully immerse yourself in understanding the business’s offering, this means you must always be open to learning and asking questions. You need to chase information and learning and be willing to think creatively. Inhouse lawyers must think of themselves as solutionists, which means we do not just say it cannot be done, but we assist our businesses find out how to achieve their results, within the acceptable risk.


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