Image: Magda Wierzycka

CAPE TOWN - Magda Wierzycka, the CEO of Africa’s competitive Asset Management company, tells of her ability to thrive as a businesswoman, mother and wife. 

She manages fin-tech company Sygnia, known in the industry as a disruptor to the financial spectrum. 

The South African company which is listed on the main board of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) provides asset management, stockbroking, administration services as well as saving products, all of which is supported by technology platforms.  

In a world where societal roles are relentlessly changing, Magda Wierzycka attests to disrupting gendered expectations within a male-dominated industry. She wants to break the glass ceiling. Shatter it in fact and she is well on her way. 

Influential women inspire her, especially “those who show bravery and authenticity in the face of opposition”. For Magda, it is of paramount importance to commission courage and to fight for the cause.

Who are her heroes?

Magda looks up to and are inspired by women like Thuli Madonsela, Makhosi Khosa and Malala Yousafzai. The common attributes of these women is that of uncompromising principles in the face of threat and intimidation. 

Her regard for women of strength lives close to home. Her own grandmother had survived Nazi concentration camps. 

Magda's own resilience is echoed by her strategic vision in that she always speaks her mind, despite her locale in a widely regarded male-dominated industry where Sygnia's board of females rests at 2 in relation to 4 men. 

Despite the gendered difference, the executive does not like to think too much about a woman in a man's world. 

However, she acknowledges the idealism of an equal world and contends that there exist significant barriers to female leadership. 

Speak out

"If I could change one thing about our education system, it would be to introduce public speaking and debating as compulsory subjects from primary school level" says Wierzycka. 

Magda believes the attributes of a leader is assertion and to publicly voice your opinion. It is important to be unapologetic in your beliefs as authenticity portrays sincerity. 

Given her successful corporate business as one of the top 5 selection companies on the JSE in 2016, according to the financial services provider, Vunani Securities, Magda Wiezycka wins at everything from taking Sygnia's R2 billion of assets in 2006 and expanding it to R150 billion in 2016. 

How does she win?

"You cannot have it all" she reveals. 

One cannot juggle being a good mother, executive and wife. One has to give.  

The executive advises that you have to decide on your priorities - whether you decide to be a homemaker or a businesswoman and by embracing certain compromise. 

She lives by her own advice by proclaiming that she does not cook nor did she ever take her children to school. This is one of the hard compromises she has made in order to ensure that she continues to effectively practice management within her company. 

However, she does make time to spend every holiday with her children by traveling the world. 

She considers herself "fated" to have started her company alongside her husband. Their working relationship ensures that they spend a lot of time together, albeit regarding business. 

On the home-front, Magda is a firm believer that everyone in the household should contribute equally with daily chores and responsibilities. She does, however, boast about her husband's exceptional culinary skills which he indulges her with from time to time. 

In true matriarchal approach, the executive tells that she spends more time on business issues.

"Women work harder than men", says Magda.  

Wierzycka shatters one of the most pervasive myths that surround women. The belief that women prioritise motherhood and hence are not reliable or worthy of being promoted. 

Advice

When asked what advice would she give females who aspire to be a successful business woman like her, she says: "There are three main strategies that you need to employ. The first is to put up your hand for all the tasks that no one else wants to do. The second strategy is to always speak your mind.  And finally, there are those pivotal moments in your life when you have to take a risk and back yourself ".  

Magda's Women's Day will be spent catching up on work, tending to a lunch with friends and she jokingly adds that she will use the excuse of it being Women's Day to get her husband to cook!