From Local Girl to Global Successor


In February 2016, I was introduced to a C-suite Manager in a Global Corporate entity, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. This person, for the sake of anonymity and privacy, will be called “Grace[1]”.

Grace was the Sub-Saharan head of Compliance and wished to start studying her Master’s Degree and was looking for a mentor to take her through this process. The project objective would be to obtain the Master’s degree when Grace turned the young and tender age of 50, as a present to herself.

At this benchmark point, there were no other expectations. The Master’s Degree was also directed to Risk Management, as this would be diversifying her offering to business.

Setting the Contextual Baseline

During the sessions, it became evident to me, the coach, that Grace has the potential, the intellectual capacity, the exposure, to not only complete a Masters dissertation on Risk Based Compliance within the specific industry, but to contribute globally to the business objectives.

Grace’s strategic positioning, regulatory relationships, previous record of accomplishment, her network, and her status within the industry, one of the “Unknowns” to Grace, has been unpacked and mapped for her.

It was indicative that Grace was an excellent candidate, not only for excellent growth within her own organisation, but also to represent companies on their Boards, or at least on the Risk and Audit Committees (ARC).

Growing In-depth Knowledge of Risk

Grace was exposed to risk as any other C-Suite Manager. The basics was understood, but the strategic value of Risk Management, and the direct influence of a Chief Risk Officer (CRO) at the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and at the Board committees and at the Board itself, was not understood, nor conceptualised.

The journey of Risk Body of Knowledge (RBoK) growth, brought the “Unknowns” to be “Known” and on the surface. It also presented opportunities, which was previously only available to the Risk Officer. It further created various conversations regarding how to move the Rules based Compliance to a Risk Based Compliance methodology within this Global entity, with offices in the USA, UK, etc.

Suddenly, Grace” was not the risk avert Grace anymore, but Grace could see the “Opportunities” which is the flip side of Risk.

This placed Grace in various unrelated forums to her pre-disposed position and suddenly, Grace was asking Risk Based Questions, holding the element of surprise in every conversation!

Being Spotted: The On the Radar Moment

This is one of the most beautiful moments in any mentoring and coaching process, the moment when excitement, knowledge, experience, preparedness and the “Opportunity” meets.

To be a witness to the “Being Spotted on the Radar” moment in someone else’s life, is precious and it will always be imprinted in my life as “Grace’s Moment”.

This moment happened in January 2017, when the Global Executive had to name a successor to the Global position.

Where Grace was initially in the potpourri bowl to be the successor, not creating the perfume, nor at the bottom of the bowl. But, with the

gained risk based knowledge,

the hand-crafted mentoring,

the strategic repositioning of her position,

the awareness regarding the situational awareness of the business objectives and

the strategic importance of her influence

she was not in the potpourri bowl anymore, she was the rose petals, infusing the great perfume.

She just could not be missed or generalised anymore.

On the Global Agenda

Although Grace’s portfolio was a standing point on the Local, Sub-Saharan and Global Board Agenda, Grace as a person and as a career path, was not.

The result of the strategic risk based intervention was that Grace, her career, the educational spend on Grace, the international travel, is now a standing point on the Human Resource Board Committee of this Global entity.

Suddenly, the flurry to invest in her, through the allocation of:

budget for her to do her Master’s Degree at an International institution,

budget for her local mentoring program,

the allocation of an experienced Global business mentor to guide her through this transition period;

a specific and directed career path over the next 24 months with specific milestones and deliverables

is top priority.

What did Grace sacrifice?

Well, this is a very interesting question. Why should anyone appoint a mentor or coach to help?

Grace offered up her family time every Friday afternoon from 18.00 to 20.00 to meet with me, for 48 weeks. A total of 96 hours.

As her mentor / coach held her accountable for:

her learning program to know Risk, from ISO 31000, COSO to Basel III,

strategic project positioning within her environment

to review what happened during the week and revisit every decision made.

Grace invested in herself, for herself and with the objective of personal growth.

Return on Investment (RoI)

How does one calculate the Return on Investment for Grace? Well, let’s try:

Masters at a UK based University: 30000 Stirling, thus R540000.00

Travel the world, UK, USA, etc, priceless!

Career opportunities, priceless!

Board exposure, priceless!

This is the best present Grace received, even before completing her Master’s Degree.

The Power of Mentoring / Coaching

Do I really need to explain this further? One is always looking forward and you don’t do introspection and don’t know the business and the environmental landscape one is operating in.

An external “puzzle builder” with a strategic view is needed to explore, re-connect, re-position, re-kindle, re-channel, re-focus, re-energise and rebuild Grace.

She had all the requirements, the qualities, but it was in her Johari’s window’s Blind Spot.


CAA and Nico Snyman is people developers and this is our mantra!

If you are up for a challenge and your career is going nowhere fast, contact us to plot and map out a journey of growth.

You will reap the rewards!

For any enquiries, please contact Nico Snyman on nico@crestadvisoryafrica.com or 0764034307.

  1. bring honour or credit to (someone or something) by one’s attendance or participation.