Anne Pratt won the CEO Award again in 2014 in the Business and Professional Services category. Click on the link below to view the original article that appeared in a special edition of CEO Magazine 2014/2015.
A 2020 perspective of this event:
“Awards often come with unexpected rewards. There is an incredible thread that connects us all. Looking back, we connect the dots.”- Anne Pratt.
Life has its’ uncertainties, and despite the adversities, it has many unexpected gifts – moments of serendipity. In the African spirit of ubuntu, a bond that binds our human connection, we know we are all inter-connected, ‘umuntu, ngamuntu, ngabantu’ (translated it means ‘I am because we are’). What we do not know is when or how that inter-connection will lead to a more significant gift. The 2014 CEO Award was a moment of interconnection, a real ‘present’ with an unexpected reward. Little did we know what lay ahead – in 2017, we would connect and cement strong bonds at Harvard University
The CEO Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards CEO launched on January 1, 2020, were created to uplift and celebrate influential women in business and government across Africa. The CEO 2014 Special Edition that featured Pratt’s CEO 2014 award, features South Africa’s revered former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela featured on the cover, one of South Africa’s most respected leaders.
Anne Pratt, a co-founder of Memela Pratt & Associates, also a finalist in the 2009 BWA Nedcor South Africa’s Businesswoman of the Year award, is the South African winner of CEO 2014 Influential Women in Business and Government Awards (Professional and Business Services). Pratt met Nelson Mandela the first time in 2003. Memela Pratt & Associates was selected to research, source, and place the best CEO that would lead in a Mandela way, for Mandela’s own Nelson Mandela Foundation. Her leadership work and Mandela’s leadership legacy lay Pratt’s foundation for Harvard Advanced Leadership fellowship in 2017.
Madonsela is the recipient of numerous South Africa awards and globally, including the Transparency International Integrity award. These recognize her Nelson Mandela like qualities of fearless, courageous, and moral leadership in combating South Africa’s fraud and corruption, in her former office as Public Protector of South Africa. In 1996, Advocate Madonsela contributed to the South African legal system. She helped draft the final constitution of South Africa, promulgated by then-President Nelson Mandela, and served as the Public Protector of South Africa from October 19, 2009, to October 14, 2016.
In her own words, reported in the Daily Maverick on April 24, 2014, Madonsela likened her role to a traditional tribal position that “gives the people a voice while giving the traditional leader a conscience.” – Thuli Madonsela.
During this time, she played a direct role, appeared in several courts, including the High Court in Pretoria, the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the highest court in the land. Her mission was to clean up the system, promote ethical and good governance, uphold the rule of law, and hold South African public officials accountable for administrative injustice and wrongdoing. Thuli Madonsela’s passion for truth and justice is unwavering and consistent, whether for Gogo (grandmother’s) Dlamini R 500 complaint, for R 25 million, or former President Jacob Zuma’s ‘state capture’ that is estimated to have cost the country multi-millions if not billions. Pratt met Madonsela for the first time in 2015 professionally, and again during 2016. Madonsela had an unwavering sense of purpose, humility, even-handedness, and administrative justice quest. Nobody had the executive privilege in her ‘Supreme Court of justice,’ it was ‘equal justice for all.’ She is currently the Chair of Social Justice at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
Futhi Mtoba and Professor Thuli Madonsela, Anne Pratt, were all selected as part of the Harvard diverse cohort of 45 top leaders selected worldwide (30 spots for Americans and 15 for the rest of the world), selected for the 2017 Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI). ALI is a successful Harvard initiative, a new third stage in higher education designed to unleash experienced leaders’ potential to solve society’s most pressing challenges.
Little did Pratt and Madonsela know they would end up at Harvard together and were happily surprised to see each other in the first class of 2017. There was equal excitement to see their colleague Futhi Mtoba. All three knew each other. It was the Sunday Times January 22, 2017, that reported ‘Thuli off the Harvard for a year’ to work on ‘social justice.’ Thuli recorded the emotion and optimism felt by all three as they left South Africa to take up this unique privilege and opportunity at Harvard University. ‘It’s so exciting to be in a learning environment again, particularly with like-minded successful people who want to be a force for good in our troubled world…..South Africans must know we are highly regarded and seen as a beacon of hope for achieving peaceful coexistence for diverse ethnic origins and color groups. For us, we know we are not there yet, but we are getting there.’ She continued:
” I am ecstatic to be where I am. I am particularly grateful that I finished my term (as public protector) on top regarding the integrity of the work my team and I did.” – Thuli Madonsela.
Futhi Motoba, also a recipient of numerous awards in South Africa, including the BWA Nedcor South Africa Businesswoman of the year award, is Co-Founder of TEACH South Africa, Former Chairman of Deloitte Southern Africa, Past President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), and is a committed trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
Being at Harvard together created a particular time to deepen the bonds to a level of friendship. Time in classes, in ‘deep dives,’ at social functions, birthday and family celebrations, and celebrating together while spending 67 minutes serving the Cambridge, MA community, on the United Nations’ UN Mandela day’ to honor the life of Mandela. This time strengthened friendships and deepened the collective commitment to exercise ‘Advanced Leadership.’ The principles and values of Nelson inspired each of them in their work in the world. Each one applies the Harvard learnings and contributes to Mandela’s leadership legacy in their respective Harvard ALI projects, to improve and heal our chaotic and fragile world.
What a Gift for All – trust the process. We never quite know what the ‘reward’ will be.