Women's Month Interview

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    #WomensMonth: Nishi Singh, MD of NSP Consultants

    NSP Consultants was started by Nishi Singh after she noticed the incredible potential South African businesses have to go from good to better.
    Nishi Singh, managing director of NSP Consultants
    Nishi Singh, managing director of NSP Consultants

    As we celebrate #WomensMonth, Nishi Singh is the managing director of NSP Consultants and recently appointed chair at IBASA KZN, shares what it takes to help push the boundaries of other businesses.

    Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    I'm a proud Durbanite. I am happily married and have two beautiful daughters. I am an avid reader and who loves to travel. Growing up, I watched my father, also a businessman display a great work ethic and that resonated with me. I have a business career spanning 17 years, and still going strong.

    I'm an academic at heart which I believe put me in good stead with interacting with a diversity of people as well as presenting and engaging well. I am constantly learning new things and I've set a goal to add at least one new course or qualification to my knowledge base, every year. I'm also very spiritually grounded in my faith.

    I'm passionate about outreach activities, so I love helping where I can. My family has nicknamed me "The Fixer" as I get great joy from empowering, uplifting and helping people from all walks of life.

    You're the MD of NSP Consultants. Tell us more about your role here

    From my early days in business, I found that practical assistance was not easily come by, and I had to wear many hats and self-taught by default to stay on top of my game (so to speak).

    In the course of running my business, which was a security company at the time, I would find myself advising and assisting other business people (mostly females) however best I could because I realised the need was there, but not always the channels.
    After I succeeded in this male dominated industry, earned my stripes, got the awards, I exited for something more fulfilling, that I was passionate about, and that’s how NSP Consultants was born – out of a desire to help businesses succeed and grow through both major, but also incremental changes and improvements.

    What is the core function of NSP Consultants?

    NSP Consultants exists to add value to businesses and assist them to achieve their maximum growth potential. Business is tough and my experience has been that business executives are so busy working in their businesses, that they don’t have the time to work on their businesses and miss many great opportunities to increase profitability and impact, without necessarily toiling so hard at the grinding mill.

    Taking a step back and doing an audit of what’s working and what’s not; what can work better and what should be aborted completely – is what we do and the results have been phenomenal so far. It’s about having a fresh perspective, which you can’t necessarily get from within the business. We also approach each business we work with, as a unique entity and not a generic one-size-fits-all solution.

    Do you have any role models? If so, who?

    Great question. I have several because I believe that no-one, no matter how great they are, or what amazing achievements they have attained, has it all together. I prefer to extract and follow the areas that the person is strong in and clearly winning at, and not necessarily follow one person for every area that I want to develop and grow in myself. So, my list would include my mum, my husband, Thuli Madonsela and so many unsung heroes who rise above adversity and come out stronger and better. I greatly admire ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

    You've recently been appointed as chairperson of IBASA KZN. Tell us how this came about?

    When I entered the consulting industry, I was looking for an association that would lend credibility and accreditation to the role. As we all know, consultants don’t generally have a good rep out there and my reputation of integrity is paramount to me.

    I discovered that IBASA is the only accredited professionally recognised business consultants' association in South Africa and so I became a member and sought how to make a contribution to strengthening its position.
    When the opportunity to serve arose, I accepted it wholeheartedly.

    You're a successful businesswoman. How do you keep a balance?

    That depends on what you define as balance. I don’t see it as giving equal time to work and life, but rather see it as an account of deposits and withdrawals, with the goal of a positive balance at the end.

    When work gets very busy, I give it my all and dip into my life reserves. When it settles, I put back double what I took out.
    As a cardinal family rule, we prioritize an international holiday together at least twice every year, and commit to maximize personal and family time over weekends as well.

    Where there’s a clash between an important work matter and a significant family engagement, I choose to prioritize family. From experience, businesses come and go, but family remains as a constant.

    What can governments do to help drive women entrepreneurs in SA?

    I think they have made strides but certainly more can be done. For one, remove the red tape to access opportunities and also make it more visible. In engaging with businesses about opportunities available, many are unaware or simply don’t know how to access them, yet they exist.

    Women empowerment should also be a priority element built into management planning at all levels, from government to the private sector, and it should be monitored for progress.
    It’s not enough to have a plan and approach it as a guideline only – it needs to be aggressively pursued to ensure the tide turns and more women get their seat the at the table. After all, we are the majority of the population and that needs to reflect accurately in business as well.

    How is IBASA empowering women entrepreneurs in building successful businesses?

    I am glad to say that gender representation is part of the transformational policy of the Board, as well as having robust discussions about women’s contributions to the SMME landscape. As with all other sectors, there’s always more that can be done and I am confident they are working well toward that.

    How do you think South Africa can help in the fight against GBV?

    Education. Both government, through various awareness initiatives, but also, each one of us, in what we portray and teach our children. It's an issue that has existed for too long and won’t be solved in a short space of time, or through regulations and legislation only.

    It has to start with a shift in mindsets and culture and what is encouraged and entrenched, in our homes and within society at large.
    If a boy is raised to feel superior, more powerful and authoritative over a female, when he is just a boy, no law will change that in his perception of his role, as a man. It’s a collective responsibility that we all have to embrace to see meaningful change come about.

    It’s an indictment to be labelled a femicide nation and one that we all need to work with great urgency, to change.

    As we celebrate Women's Month in South Africa. Do you have any words of encouragement for all the women out there?

    Believe you have a right to make a meaningful contribution – in your work, business, family and society. And when you start breaking barriers and reaching higher ground, lift other women up with you.

    We need to encourage, promote and empower each other, and together we will make it a better world for female generations to thrive and succeed in.

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