HARARE – Not many successful women can say they became an executive manager of one of Zimbabwe’s best performing listed companies before they turned 30.
However, recently inaugurated president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe (Icaz), Gloria Zvaravanhu, did just that.
Fresh-faced from KPMG Chartered Accountants, the former St David’s Girls High Bonda student, worked at First Mutual Holdings, first as the group’s finance manager before being assigned to finance executive for First Mutual Life at age 27.
Zvaravanhu, who got married at 22, credits most of her success to her husband Tongesayi Zvaravanhu, whom she says pushed her to realise her full potential. She is now the general manager for corporate services at NicozDiamond Insurance and sits on various company boards.
“I am a passionate, committed self-starting and determined mother, wife, professional and mentor. The relationships that I have built around me best describe who I am.
“I believe that one’s true self is known by those they spend most of their time with. I am a difference maker, I am obsessed about leaving a mark on the things I touch and on the people I interact with. The true me therefore is defined by the depth and breadth of my relationships and by the results of my actions,” she said.
The ever-smiling Zvaravanhu said her personal mantra was the Nike payoff line —“Just do it” — which she says helped her avoid procrastination.
“I always want to make a difference in other people’s lives because at the end of the day, I am where I am because someone believed in me at a young age, I didn’t disappoint them, I must add” she said.
The Rhodes University-educated Chartered Accountant (CA) is also an alumni of the Fortune Global Women Mentoring Programme where she is being mentored by one of the top 50 Women business leaders in USA.
“I believe in mentorship so much because I have been mentored by others, having someone hold your hand goes a lot way in giving confidence and the strength to do more”
“I have had the privilege of being mentored by one of the USA’s renowned women leaders, Kathleen Murphy, who is rated in the top 50 Business leaders in the United States. Locally I have worked (and still work) with Grace Muradzikwa who is a well-respected business leader in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Talking about her failures, Zvaravanhu said she regards every one of them as opportunities to perfect mistakes.
“I like to think of my failures as falls, because there is always an opportunity to rise from your fall and dust yourself.
“I have fallen a few times but one of my greatest lessons from my falls is that decisions must be made rationally and without emotions because when the dust has settled down and all is said and done, one must be able to live with the decisions made comfortably on their conscience,” she said.
The self-motivated Zvaravanhu said she meticulously plans for everything in her life and takes advantage of unexpected opportunities.
“I have the end in mind all the time. I visualise my goals and see no other option but to attain them. I set personal goals and strategies to achieve them.
“Nothing is ever an accident in my life. My husband Tongesayi can attest to this. I am motivated by the drive to make a difference. I believe God has a big life calling for me. I couldn’t possibly live and leave without making a mark on this earth,” she said adding she is also motivated by Martin Luther King.
A good listener, she gets most of her ideas from paying attention to those around her.
“I listen a lot to people talking. I believe that I am a very good listener. When I get to a serene quiet environment I process all I would have heard and start coming up with solutions to any challenges I could be having.
“My best ideas come to me when I wake up in the middle of the night. As a result I keep pen and paper on my bedside,” Zvaravanhu said.
The mother of one said her greatest fear was living a meaningless life, adding she wanted to leave a phenomenal legacy.
“To have lived on earth and not reach my full potential, that is my greatest fear. I fear most the day I will lie in bed dying and I wouldn’t have developed relationships and impacted positively to other people’s lives.
“I fear an empty funeral where no one can attest to the difference I made in their life. As a result I work on rich fulfilling relationships with family, friends, colleagues and my God,” she said, noting her ideals were action, focus, commitment, hard/smart work and ethics.
Zvaravanhu — who said her formula to building a stellar business profile was hard work and creating meaningful relationships — said if she could talk to anyone from history it would be Abraham.
“Father Abraham — the biblical father of faith. The man whom God himself called a friend. He must have been really great. I am a woman of faith myself and I could pick a leaf or two from his book if I can have an opportunity to talk to him,” she said.
As her greatest inspiration, Zvaravanhu picked her five-month-old son, her mother; her husband and other women excelling in their fields.
“My son, Tayeukwa, is a whole inspirational story on his own, but that’s for another day! He is my greatest inspiration.
“My mother is also a great inspiration, being a retired nurse; I believe that she has positively contributed to the nursing profession during her working life. Of course, my husband inspires me, a lot of my successes was because he became the ladder for me to climb on and the shoulders to stand tall on,” she said.
The CA said her most satisfying moment professionally was when she became president of the national accounting body, Icaz.
“I have had a couple of satisfying moments in business; when I became the president of the prestigious and esteemed Icaz and when I was chosen for the Fortune Global Women mentorship programme and rubbed shoulders with top business leaders in the States including statesman like Hillary Clinton,” she said.
An avid reader, Zvaravanhu said the book that inspired her the most to date is Robin Sharma’s The Monk who sold his Ferrari.
“The Monk who sold his Ferrari taught me that life should never be about physical possessions but you must take care of the core of you and do what you believe in. All else will follow,” she said.
Her other hobbies include following up of legal cases and physical fitness.
“I love reading and physical fitness. I follow legal cases, in another life I must have been a lawyer. I also love fashion and spend time looking for good fashion pieces. I have a clothing line up my sleeve,” she said.
Zvaravanhu said she aspires to be a great leader, influencer and source of inspiration.
“In 10 years I must have sharpened my business acumen and defined areas of expertise that I will be well-known and celebrated for.
“I want to see a number of professionals that I would have contributed in moulding, rise and take up leadership positions. I also want to be a game changer in my community and I have a “hope giving” initiative I would like to see take off in the short course,” she said, adding that in 20 years she wants to retire and travel the world.