Change the world


Reasons to be Proud - #R2bP: Mandela University Vice-Chancellor's Personal Assistant, Babalwa Sishuba was recently chosen as the public sector category winner in the OPSA (Association for Office Professionals of South Africa) National Administrative Excellence 2020 competition.

“It is important to know yourself, be the best in whatever you do and put ‘service before self’”, says Babalwa who is PA to Professor Sibongile Muthwa.

With more than 50 entries and three finalists in each category Babalwa believes that “integrity, empathy and humility are key in this profession. She has been in this position since September 2013 and is also a part-time master’s student in Industrial and Organisational Psychology.

Her message to young professionals is that “nobody is perfect, but acknowledging mistakes and learning from them helps one become a better person.  It is always important to ask when you don’t know and strive to be a better version of yourself every day.  Find yourself a mentor/s and share knowledge and skills with those around you”.

Babalwa believes that she won this award by trying to conduct herself in the best and most honest way possible.  Her work ethic, willingness to serve and going the extra mile, personality, integrity and humility got her this far.

“I acknowledge my mistakes and learn from them, I ask questions when I don’t know in order for me to grow. Lastly, I have a lot of support from family, friends, colleagues and great mentors, she says.

Babalwa was born in Mount Frere, matriculated in Mthatha at St John’s College and worked in the Director-General’s office at the Office of the Premier in Bhisho before joining the University.

About her career at the University, she states that dealing with student issues gives her a deeper understanding of “service before self” as she tries at all times to assist, forcing her to think out of the box most of the time.  

Also, working with diverse groups, offers her an opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and open up to other people’s beliefs and ways of doing things that are different to hers.

She adds that In February 2020, the University management team’s personal assistants started a Community of Practice [COP] and they have online meetings during the lock-down where they share ideas and learn from each other.  

“As we are the face of the University, we hope to grow this profession and include other colleagues in this category to be agents of change.  We need to step up our game and come up with ideas and plans to make this profession remain relevant beyond COVID-19 and 4IR” Babalwa says.