Inspiring Women In CX

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Clare Muscutt talks with Sarah Sargent about customer experience in housing and non-profit sectors.

Sarah Sargent, Director of Customer Services at Swan Housing Group, joins Clare Muscutt on the Inspiring Women in CX Podcast to discuss her own CX journey, beginning in hospitality, how she challenged traditional gender roles and paved her own way to success despite societal expectation and resistance, and how she now draws upon this personal strength and past experience in order to action CX initiatives within the housing and not-for-profit sector.

Additionally, Sarah talks about how the Grenfell Tower tragedy sparked change within the social housing sector, the importance of co-creation and community engagement in centralising the voice of the customer, and also how we can harness data and tech as a tools to deliver value for the customer, employee and business.

Tune in to hear them talk about:

👉 Hospitality as a pathway to CX.

👉 The switch from business to customer measures.

👉 Challenging traditional gender roles.

👉 CX in the housing and not-for-profit sector.

👉 How the Grenfell Tower tragedy sparked change.

👉 The importance of co-creation and community engagement groups.

👉 The challenges presented by data (or lack of!).

👉 Breaking down the stigma surrounding social housing.

👉 Harnessing digital to support customers.

👉 Sarah’s advice for women in CX.

 

For more information about how you can join the world's first online community for women in customer experience, visit www.womenincx.community!

Episode #304 Clare Muscutt talks with Adi Tobias about carving out her own role, CX in platform-based businesses, and neurodivergence as CX superpower!

Adi Tobias, Head of Customer Experience Strategy & Operations at Uber, joins Clare Muscutt on the Inspiring Women in CX Podcast to discuss her own unpredictable pathway into CX, how she dismissed existing boundaries to carve out her own role, and the importance of CX agility in platform-based businesses. She also examines how, retrospectively, her ADHD diagnosis was a catalyst for where she is now: feeling blessed to have a brain that thinks differently when it comes to CX.

 

Tune in to hear them discuss:

 

👉 Blank-sheet-of-paper CX jobs

👉 Hybrid approaches to CX 

👉 CX in platform-based businesses

👉 The power of test-and-learn in CX

👉 Being diagnosed with ADHD

👉 Neurodivergence as a CX superpower

👉 Coping skills for living in a neurotypical world

👉 Building neurodiverse teams

👉 The importance of finding a sponsor

👉 The power of partnering with different thinkers 

👉 Adi’s advice for businesses to create equity and inclusion.

 

For more information about how you can join the world's first online community for women in customer experience, visit www.womenincx.community!

Clare Muscutt talks with Gita Samani about CX and Digital Transformation, Perfectionism and Beating Burnout.

Gita Samani, Director of Strategy at Astound Commerce joins Clare Muscutt on the Inspiring Women in CX Podcast to discuss Digital Transformation from a CX point of view and how to avoid the pitfalls of making technology led decisions and evolve your tech stack to enhance customer and employee experience. In this episode Clare and Gita talk about their similarities as women in tech, including experiencing the perils of perfectionism that led them to both recently experiencing burnout. Tune in to hear them discuss:

 

  • How Gita got into CX
  • The relationship between Business Analysis and CX
  • The challenges with digital transformation
  • How to stop CX being the outcome of technology choices
  • How to make tech drive customer, employee and business value
  • The importance of delivering brand through digital touchpoints
  • How to avoid technology-led decisions 
  • Evolving your tech stack to enhance customer and employee experience 
  • Managing burn out 
  • The pandemic impact 
  • Overwhelm, perfectionism and retesting priorities
  • The importance of self care
  • The difference between being selfish and setting boundaries
  • Gita’s advice for women in CX

To find out more about joining the Women in CX community, visit www.womenincx.community

Clare Muscutt talks with Sarah Curran-Usher MBE about the evolution of retail customer experience.

Sarah Curran-Usher MBE joins Women in CX Founder and podcast host Clare Muscutt to discuss the evolution of retail customer experience from bricks-and-mortar to pure-play online stores over her 20 years working in the fashion industry. From the importance of getting the basics right to the opportunities presented by the latest data and technology advances, this podcast highlights what it takes to 'sell' CX to senior leaders by balancing the emotional and commercial aspects of CX initiatives, and vitally discusses the need for more women at board level who appreciate the balance required to support decisions that value people as much as numbers.

Tune in to hear more about:
- The moments that shaped Sarah's career
- How she embraced her 'disruptive' nature
- Using her different thinking to fuel success as an entrepreneur
- The highs and lows of starting, scaling, and selling her own business
- Becoming an 'entrepreneur in residence'
- The dangers of CX 'gimmicks'
- Acquisition vs retention in retail
- How to get C-suite onboard
- The differences in female leadership
- Balancing customer, brand, and commercial priorities
- Using behavioural customer data to drive better decisions
- Developing your own resilience 
- Sarah's advice for women in CX

You can find out how to join the world's first online membership community for women interested in CX by visiting www.womenincx.community

Clare Muscutt talks about CX Insights & Women in the Workplace with Kantar Insights CEO, Amy Cashman

Amy Cashman, CEO of Kantar UK's Insights Division, joins Women in CX Founder and podcast host Clare Muscutt to discuss the importance of establishing 'red lines' to create work–life balance, challenging the perception of female senior leadership to set positive examples for women in the workplace, and how brand values impact both the customer and the employee experience.

 

“Lean into who you are and don’t feel that you have to change to be successful.”

 

The conversation also delves into…

• The evolution of CX insights

• How brands can amplify or undermine women’s confidence

• The creation of proof-points to deliver on brand promise

• How Amy reached CEO level

• Using CX to create (and to prove) ROI for organisations

• How to create environments within which women thrive

• How evidence of D&I is more important than brand statements

• The importance of authenticity

 

Visit https://womenincx.community/ for more inspiring content, and to find out how to join the world's first online membership community for women in customer experience.

 

#womeninbusiness #ceo #customerexperience #research #insights #kantar #womenincx #womenincxpodcast #inspiringwomen #inspiringwomenincx #femalelead #leadership #cx

Clare Muscutt talks human Centred Design, Inclusion and LGBTQ+ Womxn in CX with Lara Husslebee.

Have you ever felt excluded? Been interrupted? Or felt shamed?

 

We have all felt this way at one time or another. But for minorities, this can be a regular occurrence.

 

Thankfully businesses now recognise the value of diversity and inclusion.

 

❌ But inclusion isn't an HR policy, D&I training or a hiring initiative. 

❌ It isn’t flying rainbow flags during PRIDE.

 

✔️ Inclusion is creating a space and culture which enables all employees to feel safe to fully bring themselves to work. 

✔️ To be seen, heard and celebrated for our differences, and valued for who we are.

 

My awesome guest on the podcast this week, Lara Hussblebee, identifies as a Queer Woman in CX and came on the show to share how she is using Design Thinking and Human Centred Design to help companies understand and empathise with minority groups, on her mission to include the excluded.

 

This episode reminds us that the most powerful way to include others is to remember the feeling you experienced, at the moment you felt excluded, and connect with it. 

 

As the most fundamental capability needed to include others is quite simply, Empathy.

 

The biggest barrier to get over is often language. 

 

Not feeling awkward talking and avoiding conversations ‘just incase I say the wrong thing’

 

Lara talked passionately about the positive intent to include others being the most important thing.

 

We all feel awkward when we are more worried about what to say. So let’s lean into that feeling, start the conversation, feel for one another, ask questions and simply listen

 

Tune in to hear us geek out on CX Design, and talk about:

 

🌈 Finding our way into CX

🌈 Design Thinking and Human-Centred Design

🌈 The similarities and difference between design disciplines

🌈 The Future of CX

🌈 Being a proud queer woman in CX

🌈 Usability - serving practical needs

🌈 Empathy - serving emotional needs

🌈 Empathy and Gender

🌈 LGBTQ employee experience

🌈 Rainbow Youth

🌈 Co-creation with minority groups

🌈 Intersectional feminism 

🌈 Including the excluded through HCD

🌈 Using our skills to support charities

🌈 Maxing communities stronger through HCD

🌈 Helping minority groups feel heard, seen and celebrated

🌈 What it means to be a great ally

 

#LGBTQ #inclusion #humancentreddesign #designthinking #queerwomenincx #customerexperience #employeeexperience #diversity #womenincx #femaleentrepreneurs #inspiringwomen #womeninbusiness #womenentrepreneurs #girlboss #howtobeawesomeatcx #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #womeninbusiness #womenownedbusiness #girlpower #femaleboss #podcast #womenincxpodcast #womenincxcommunity #claremuscutt

 

Clare Muscutt talks about CX in IoT and FM with Sharon Boyd, CXO at MKL Innovation.

“To break the cycle of female rivalry, we have to believe there is more than one seat at the table"

 

Female rivalry happens when a woman uses her power to keep another woman down, mistreats her, or competes unfairly.

 

Here are some from my own experience:

🙅🏼‍♀️ Being told by my manager to not share my thoughts and opinions in meetings or with the big boss.

🙅🏼‍♀️ A colleague who took full-credit for my work.

🙅🏼‍♀️ A senior manager took me to a side room to attack me until I was in tears.

🙅🏼‍♀️ Confiding in a peer about about a difficult stakeholder, who then told my boss I was “having trouble building relationships.”

 

It was great to have my latest guest Sharon Boyd on the show, to talk about our more difficult experiences, but even more awesome to talk how the community of women we find ourselves in now, is completely challenging the stereotype.

Tune in to hear us talk about:

💻 The lack of female role models in corporate

💻 Challenging stereotypes of female competition

💻 How amazing the CX community is

💻 Finding a mentor

💻 The importance of male allies

💻 The Internet of Things (IoT)

💻 CX in Facilities Management (FM)

💻 What it was like taking an MBA

💻 The benefits of coaching

💻 Other ways to invest in yourself

 

We love being Women in CX!!

 

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#femalecompetition #moreseatsatthetable #zwomensupportingwomen #womenincx #femaleentrepreneurs #inspiringwomen #womeninbusiness #womenentrepreneurs #girlboss #howtobeawesomeatcx #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #womeninbusiness #womenownedbusiness #girlpower #femaleboss #podcast #womenincxpodcast #womenincxcommunity #claremuscutt

Clare Muscutt talks with Mandisa Makubalo about using CX to make a social difference.

Talking about founding the first 100% black-owned customer experience consultancy in South Africa, giving back, speaking your truth, and using CX design as a strategic asset to strengthen township economies.

 

‘Apartheid’ and ‘Ubuntu’ are two South African words voiced in this week’s podcast that couldn’t be more different in meaning.

‘Apartheid’ is Afrikaans for separateness and was coined to describe the white supremacist regime of institutionalised segregation that existed until as recently as 1994.

 

Whilst ‘Ubuntu’ means humanity and oneness.

 

Ubuntu’s roots are in the Xhosa phrase ‘umntu ngumntu ngabantu’ that means "I am, because you are", and reflects the collective consciousness central to a 2000 year old humanist African philosophy.

 

It makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

My guest this week, the magnificently inspiring Mandisa Makubalo, grew up in the post-arpatheid Townships of Cape Town and has since dedicated her career to speaking her truth and healing divides, using her CX skills to unite the City and Township economies. 

 

Tune in to her Mandisa talk about: 

 

💖 Healing the separation caused by Apartheid

💖 Growing up in the townships of Cape Town

💖 Breaking stereotypes of black-owned business

💖 Losing everything and starting again

💖 Changing the definition of success

💖 Social and economic separation

💖 The rise of the ‘Black Diamonds’

💖 Using CX to heal social problems

💖 The power of speaking your truth

💖 Developing faith in times of struggle

💖 Giving back to your community

💖 Supporting young people to achieve social and economic mobility

 

This is a very special episode, indeed...

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#apartheid #townships #southafrica #capetown #inspiringwomen #womensupportingwomen #inspiringwomen #customerexperience  #womenincx #femaleentrepreneurs #inspiringwomen #womeninbusiness #womenentrepreneurs #girlboss #howtobeawesomeatcx #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #womeninbusiness #womenownedbusiness #girlpower #femaleboss #podcast #womenincxpodcast #womenincxcommunity #claremuscutt

 

Show Notes

Clare Muscutt – host:

Welcome to the 14th episode of the second series of the Women in CX podcast, a series dedicated to real-talk conversations between women in customer experience. Listen in as we share our career stories, relive the moments that shaped us, and voice our opinions as loudly as we like about all manner of CX subjects.

I’ll be your host, Clare Muscutt, and in today’s episode I’ll be talking to a woman who grew up in the townships of South Africa and is dedicating her life’s work to using her CX skills to heal the social and economic divides created by Apartheid.

Let me introduce you to today’s inspiring guest. She started her career on the frontline of customer experience in call centres before working her way up in management consulting until she broke out as the first entrepreneur to start a fully black-owned CX consultancy business that she aptly named Unlimited Experiences. Her personal story is one of tremendous strength and courage through adversity, so sit back and tune in for some serious inspiration.

Please welcome to the show CX sister, Mandisa Makubalo. Hey, Mandisa!

Mandisa Makubalo:

Hello, Clare.

Clare Muscutt – host:

How are you today?

Mandisa Makubalo:

I’m awesome. I’m amazing. Cape Town is beautiful. How are you?

Clare Muscutt – host:

I’m awesome, too. And yes, you are awesome. We are awesome! And welcome to the Women in CX podcast. And welcome to everybody listening at home, as well.

So, Mandisa, I’m so excited to have this conversation with you today because I know you’re doing some absolutely incredible work in your hometown of South Africa, in Cape Town, in bringing together the communities from the cities and the townships to really effect some social change. I think it’s a really important story that needs to be heard, and it needs to be shared. So, thank you so much for coming to share it with Women in CX.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Thank you. It’s an honour for me to be on the podcast. I’m excited.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Oh, it’s an honour to have you here.

So, let’s begin at the beginning, then. So, we’re going to talk a lot about where you came from. So, your office today, where are you joining us from?

Mandisa Makubalo:

I’m joining you from South Africa. I’m in the city of Cape Town in the Western Cape Province – the country has nine provinces – I’m in the Western Cape Province in the beautiful city of Cape Town that has the notorious Table Mountain. And I’m in the township – I’m born in the township of Gugulethu, which means ‘Our pride’ – but I’m stationed, in terms of our offices, I’m in the township of Philippi, which a township that is… the office park itself is surrounded by tinned housing structures. We’re in a business park that is designed in a way that captures the beauty of our culture and our race in South Africa.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Amazing, amazing. I’ve been to South Africa. I visited Cape Town twice. It’s definitely one of my favourite places…

Mandisa Makubalo:

Really?

Clare Muscutt – host:

… on earth. Yes, yes! I’ve climbed Table Mountain. I’ve climbed the Lion’s Head. I’ve taken the thing from the top.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Oh, no!

Clare Muscutt – host:

Yeah, I came as a speaker. I did a solo drive all the way down the western cape up to Knysna…

Mandisa Makubalo:

Oh, nice.

Clare Muscutt – host:

… and I stopped in lots of different places, Stellenbosch. So, I’m a massive fan of the country. It’s a beautiful place.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Oh, nice.

Clare Muscutt – host:

And next time…

Mandisa Makubalo:

I’m happy to hear that.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Next time, I’m definitely going to come and visit you.

So, my first question is going to be about what it was like for you as a young woman growing up in the townships of post-Apartheid South Africa. But I think for the listeners, it’s probably important for us to understand what was Apartheid in the first place? How did the townships become the townships?

Mandisa Makubalo:

So, Apartheid was a system that was created to separate people. It was intended to create a system that separates the blacks from the whites. So, what you had was the whites would stay in one side of the city and the black, African blacks would stay on the townships. So, the system itself was intended to really segregate and separate people and to bring this division across humanity, across humans.

As a result of that, right now, we are still in that system – but we can talk more about that throughout the podcast – but really, Apartheid was a system that was created back then, which was intended to segregate and divide people according to their skin colour.

Clare Muscutt – host:

It’s absolutely disgusting, isn’t it, to think…? It wasn’t that long ago either when…

Mandisa Makubalo:

I know.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Nelson Mandela was freed in, was it the 1990s?

Mandisa Makubalo:

1994.

Clare Muscutt – host:

1994. Wow. Such a recent time. So, you were telling me about the beauty of the townships – I think you said the township you grew up in, the translation of the word means ‘pride’.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Yeah. So, I know you’re very proud of your heritage. So, tell me what it was like as a young woman growing up in the township.

Mandisa Makubalo:

It’s who I am; it’s my identity. It’s the most humbling and the most beautiful – I’m sure you could probably say the same in terms of where you grew up, as well – but for me, you know, we have been brought up in a community of people where there’s a term that’s called, ‘Umntu ngumntu ngabantu,’ which means that ‘I am because you are, and you are because I am.’

Clare Muscutt – host:

I love that.

Mandisa Makubalo:

We were brought up with those principles in our culture, in the black community. So, we lived in houses that were very attached to one another, so there was no detachment. Sometimes, we call it like a ‘train’, so the way in which the train is designed, that’s how the houses are: there’s no separation between the one house and the other house. But what that instilled in us is that unity and that family. So, if you lacked something, you would just stand across the fence and shout, ‘Can I have a spoon of salt?’ ‘Can I have sugar?’ ‘Can I have a slice of bread?’

Clare Muscutt – host:

Yeah.

Mandisa Makubalo:

So, we have that. And there was nothing shunned upon in terms of asking your neighbour because we were being brought up in a family and this homely set-up. So, for me as a mother today, and as a business owner, I am who I am because of where I grew up. I’m this family-oriented person. I’m a person that loves unity and being amongst people because I grew up like that.

I come from a family of nine. I have seven brothers… and two girls. I’m the second youngest. We grew up in a big house. My dad had a family-owned business, so we had helpers at home all the time. The house was constantly busy. We were the first house in our block to own a television set, so the entrepreneur in me actually kicked in at the time because when the guys came to watch programmes, I would charge them a fee.

Clare Muscutt – host:

I love that! So, entrepreneurial Mandisa started as…

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes!

Clare Muscutt – host:

Love it.

Mandisa Makubalo:

And that’s really how we grew up. On a Sunday, we had this big pot of food that was prepared, and everybody was there. I think the only time the house was ever quiet was when we were sleeping at night, but throughout the day, there was constant traffic. But that’s the culture: there’s this constant traffic and constant movement. There’s never a dull day or a quiet day, and that’s how we grew up, and I loved that.

Even when I grew up and I moved to the city – and we can talk about that later on – but I found that it was so different to how I grew up: the structures, in terms of the way the houses have been built, there’s this separation between the houses, but I grew up in a space where there was attachment, you know, there was the next-door, the neighbour, the neighbour, the neighbour, the neighbour.

So, it was beautiful growing up as a black woman in the township.

Clare Muscutt – host:

It sounds idyllic. I was going to say, actually, that sense of attached-ness rather than separation, actually not many people get that sense of community growing up. So, it sounds like you were definitely on the right side of the…

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes! And you know what? Sorry to cut in! You know what happened? As much as Apartheid was intended to separate and segregate people, it actually worked in our favour because it brought us together.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Strengthened the community.

Mandisa Makubalo:

There was a homeliness, and now you have these mothers that are coming up from that kind of set-up. So, as much as racially we were separated, but for us as a black community, we grew to love one another, and there was this unity that nobody could break even today.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Yeah. What about the expectation for young women in the townships? What was that like? Were women supposed to grow up and be entrepreneurs like you?

Mandisa Makubalo:

I would say yes, but as a black community – and this is something that I’m, this is a stereotype that I’m trying to break as a businesswoman today – there were these so-called ‘black businesses.’ So, if you set up a business as a black person, it’s either you’re doing hair, you’re selling food, or you would – what’s the other one? So, you’re cutting hair, you’re selling food. So, there’s these traditional set-ups that were created as for the black community. So, if you had a business, it was only limited to those things.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Wow.

Mandisa Makubalo:

And that’s how people grew up, you know, it’s either you were selling meat, you were selling food, you prepare food at home, or you were cutting hair, you’re plaiting people’s hair, or you have a barber. That’s all that was done at the time, but there’s been this evolution now, and there’s your consultants today – like a Mandisa Makubalo – which you wouldn’t have found back in the days.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Yeah, amazing. And you created the first black-owned CX consulting practice in South Africa, right?

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes! Yes!

Clare Muscutt – host:

Go, girl!

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yeah!

Clare Muscutt – host:

I’m going to come back and ask you some more questions about that in a second, but just to go back to where we were talking about the townships and the cities. With that kind of model of separation, how is that shaping inequality and social issues today?

Mandisa Makubalo:

It still is. We have a long way to go – I can say that – but there’s been great progress that has been made. I think what it requires is a level of intentionality at an individual level. And we cannot outsource that responsibility of driving equality to a government department; it has to be something that’s owned, and Mandisa has to be intentional about driving equality.

Growing up at a young age, I did not see that because my dad took us to a private school. So, we were not schooled within the township, but we went to a private school, and we had a driver that would pick us up at home in the morning and drop us off at home at afternoon because our dad feared for our lives, but he could afford that.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Oh, wow.

Mandisa Makubalo:

You know, it wasn’t safe for one to travel and use – I think as a parent, he had fears around us using public transportations and whether or not we would be safe. So, he then paid – we had a transport escorting system. The guy would pick us up in the morning and bring us home in the evening, in the late afternoon.

Just going back to your question, so what has happened – which I still see today – as a result of the Apartheid system or the regime, as we call it, what you do find is that… so, let’s say I’m now owning this customer experience consultancy, and as a result of this, I’m able to get myself this beautiful – build myself a beautiful big house. So, the definition of success at the moment – as a consultant – what had happened back then is that for you to be successful, one moves out of the township and into the city.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Right.

Mandisa Makubalo:

So, you get yourself this beautiful job. You study. You have a degree or you have a diploma. And then, you get yourself a beautiful job as an accountant or a financial manager, whatever the profession is. You buy yourself a car, you get yourself a house, and you move out of the township. And that is deemed as success. And what that does for us within the same race, what you find is that a black person that lives in the city and moves out of the township now comes back into the township to visit, and there’s almost this sense that ‘I’m better than them.’

Clare Muscutt – host:

Right.

Mandisa Makubalo:

And it’s what the system has done in a sense. You look at these young kids that listen to what their mums and their dads say at home, and they are schooled in these private schools, and they have a specific accent in terms of how they speak. Now, they come back into the township. And then, there’s a young boy that the parents cannot afford to take them to private school, and they don’t have that accent that the other one has. And you see how they interact with one another. These two are both blacks, but you see how the one looks down on the other. The other one would have an iPad; the other one doesn’t even have exposure to any tech device.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Wow.

Mandisa Makubalo:

And that’s what the system has done, but that responsibility has got to be owned by the parents, has got to be owned by Mandisa. It cannot be outsourced to anybody. So, as a result of what happened back then, you still find that there’s this inequality amongst us within the same race, and it’s quite bad. But I can also… yes?

Clare Muscutt – host:

Sorry! Just to kind of play that back, so what’s been created is a kind of social inequality based on economic status…

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

… that means people have been conditioned to believe, ‘The only way for me to be successful is to get out of here,’ and then of course the people who do succeed leave, and it leaves the social and economic challenge ongoing.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Right.

Mandisa Makubalo:

And at the same time, look, the reasons why people move out of the townships isn’t only because they want to now start separating themselves from everybody, but from a security perspective…

Clare Muscutt – host:

Safer.

Mandisa Makubalo:

… there’s a lot of a crime in the townships. It’s not safe. You find that it’s much safer in the city for understandable reasons because if you look at the population of the cities and the townships, there’s a vast difference between the two. So, people don’t only move out of the townships because they are now saying that ‘I’m successful. I’m moving into the city,’ but they move out of the township for security reasons, and it’s not always the case that ‘Now, I’m all of a sudden better than everybody else.’

Clare Muscutt – host:

I remember when we first talked, you told me about the ‘Black Diamonds.’

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes!

Clare Muscutt – host:

Tell me more about those people. They’re bucking the trend, right?

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes. So, the University of Cape Town, which is one of our very esteemed institutions in South Africa, has done studies – and you can go back and take some time and read up on this – there’s so much more interesting insights about these individuals. But they are between the ages – I think it’s between the ages of 25 to 35; I might be wrong. They are your Mandisas, I would say – although I’m outside of 35 years old – but they are your graduates, and they hold quite senior positions in corporates. They earn a good salary, and they have this massive contribution that they make towards the country’s gross domestic product and the total consumer spending of the country; they have a massive percentage that they make towards that.

But this group of people, some of them choose to stay in the townships; they don’t move out of the townships. Some of them do move out of the townships. But you do find Black Diamonds that are staying right in the heart of the townships and they haven’t opted to move out, which is a fantastic thing. But again, not saying that it’s a bad thing to move out, but let it be for the right reasons, and that when you do come back and visit your family, it’s not a case of you perceiving yourself to be better than everybody else, and now that you have achieved life and you’re better than everybody else. It’s not about that. It’s really about saying that I want better. And if there’s better, then we will choose better, but I’m still true to who I am: I’m an African black woman that recognises that I was brought up in this place, and I’m a product of this place.

Clare Muscutt – host:

It sounds like there’s a real sense of giving back for you, and also some of the people that choose to stay in the townships, I’m sure, to provide excellent role models for the next generations coming up.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

So, I think I’d just really love to understand a bit more about the challenges you faced in kind of breaking through the stereotype and setting up the first black-owned CX consulting practice. What was that journey like for you?

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yeah, it was – it’s the most beautiful journey. I’ve had a lot of challenges, I would say, but what had happened is it started off at a time when I had lost my job. The previous company I had worked for had liquidated, so I lost my – actually, no, I was laid off before the company liquidated. And here I was, a very senior head of department in this consulting firm, and then I lose my job.

At the time, I was staying in the city – and my choice to move to the city was again for security reasons, but not because I’m now trying to deem myself as more successful than anyone else – so, at the time then, when I lost my job, I lost my house; I lost my car; I had to move out of the city and go back to the township.

But when I moved back, I had no place to stay. So, I was staying with friends, and I had to ask people to look after my furniture. That went on for about three years, where I had no place to stay. At that time, what kept me going was my faith. I’m a very strong believer. I have an intimate relationship with God. So, what kept me going was my – I had this peace that still I have today in the midst of whatever happens, I have this peace that just surpasses all understanding. A lot of the time, people would tend to ask, ‘Mandisa, it’s like you’re in your own space.’ But I had this peace inside and this knowing that ‘I’m okay, and I am not my circumstances.’

It was difficult, though, for my daughter and my 75-year-old mum, who had to go and stay with a friend, and my daughter had to go and stay with me with a friend. I remember I used to sleep on a couch in the front of the house, and she shared a bed with my friend. And my mum had no place to sleep; she had to sleep on the floor.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Oh, no.

Mandisa Makubalo:

It was terrible. But at that time, I knew what I had is that ‘Mandisa, you might be going through this season right now, but there’s so much intellectual property that you had in you. How can you then use that to build something for yourself?’

So, I remember hopping around from place to place with my laptop every single day trying to find a Wi-Fi spot. Sometimes, I would go to meetings hoping that they would have food for me to eat, and I’d pack some food for my daughter to take home.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Wow.

Mandisa Makubalo:

But in the midst of that, I was building this business. And my mum kept on saying to me, ‘Mandisa, what are you doing?’ Like, ‘Mum, I’m starting a consulting company.’ ‘But my child, that’s for white people; that’s white people stuff.’ She grew up at the time of the Apartheid system, so I would understand. I took no offence because I knew that there was this big age difference between myself and her and she wouldn’t understand. But I was protecting of my daughter because she didn’t understand what was happening. You know, we had everything. She had everything that she needed and all of sudden, we don’t have anything; we just lost it all.

So, that was a challenge that I had. But at the time, my faith grew stronger and stronger. I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. There was this knowing, Clare, that ‘This is just a test. I’m going to come out of this beautiful and shining.’ I knew that. I knew. I knew. ‘Mandisa, this is a test.’

Clare Muscutt – host:

This is, like, touching my soul right now. It’s so inspiring, and that piece that you’re talking about, I think especially for people who’ve lost so much through the coronavirus pandemic, you know, to hear of your struggle and how you overcame that. To think there was a time when you were worried about being able to eat, you know, and where you’ve come from and where you’ve come to and your multiple successes. Honestly, this is touching my heart right now. I’m so incredibly proud of you.

Mandisa Makubalo:

We found a place to stay, but you know what? As we stayed there, there were days where there was no electricity, and I would go out with my laptop – sometimes I’d even have soap to wash my body. I would wash in cold water. This was two-and-a-half years ago, eh?

Clare Muscutt – host:

Wow!

Mandisa Makubalo:

And I would get home only to find my mum and my daughter sleeping. There’s no power at home. There’s no food at home. But I had the most beautiful support from friends because I’ve always been the person that always led to give, to give, and to give. And I guess I was just sowing the seed at the time not knowing that there was going to come a time where that seed will speak for me. I had people just coming, giving food from all different sides, and people clothed me – they know how I love looking beautiful – and I had just people saying, ‘Go get your hair done,’ or ‘Have your nails done,’ ‘Let’s sort you out. Do you have data? Do you have airtime?’ But in that time, even up until today, we stayed in a one-room home. We actually moved out of that structure, Clare, in December last year, 2020.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Oh, wow! Wow.

Mandisa Makubalo:

I promise you. As I’m doing those sessions with Jonathan and everybody else last year, we are staying in a one-roomed structure, and it’s four people in that space, and I kept on pushing this business in that space. Only in December, on the 22nd of December 2020, we moved into a bigger house that’s fully furnished.

Clare Muscutt – host:

I never would’ve known that that struggle was going on behind the scenes because everything you’ve been doing over the last year, you know, your profile was really raised, you’ve been contributing to all these amazing global conversations, that I think all our listeners will be genuinely surprised to know that you were doing it from that place. I have absolutely nothing but absolute huge respect and admiration. And there is a light that just shines from you, Mandisa. It is incredibly powerful.

So, tell us about how you’re using customer experience to change the social inequalities in South Africa? You’re healing some of these divides between the cities and the townships; how are you doing that?

Mandisa Makubalo:

You know what? I think what I went through is what has ignited this – it has always been there to want to help; I’ve always felt compelled to help. I’ve always been that person that always gives advice and helps other people. I think what I went through during that three-year period actually just ignited that even more. So, what I have been doing – and this I’ve been doing when I had absolutely no money – I ran workshops last year training local businesses at no cost. I needed the money so much, but I felt, ‘Don’t do it for the money.’ And I would use my last money and buy cookies and soft drinks, and I would invite these guys to come in. I would go to different hotels and ask them for marketing material. I would set up the room. And I would train these guys on customer experience because I’m saying to them, ‘Don’t set your eyes on just running a salon on this tin structure; try and think of running a beauty parlour. How does it look like?’ You know, I’m teaching about the principles of different touchpoints they have within this shack that you are running your salon in: ‘Make sure that your mirrors are clean. Clean the combs. Make sure that your floor is clean. When people come in, greet the people.’

So, CX – that’s what CX is about. Those guys would do journey mapping with me. One lady standing of the corner of the street, she’s selling food and she’s selling chicken feet, and I would tell her how CX looks like for her. You know, I’m saying to them, ‘Don’t set your eyes on small things; there’s a world that’s out there. And I’m trying to get a lot of you guys into these bigger supply chains.’ I sit in different forums and conversations where these big companies would say, ‘We are looking for black-owned businesses, but we can’t find them.’ And I’m saying, ‘But they’re there,’ and I realised there’s a disconnect somewhere.

And I had to sometimes say, ‘Mandisa, what do you have that you can give back and empower these guys?’ There’s this bad thinking that branding is about printing of t-shirts and caps, and I’m saying to the guys, ‘Branding is not about printing t-shirts and caps; branding is actually bigger than that. The psychology behind colours…’ and I would teach them all of these things about how you get the feedback. You know, you don’t have the tools to run an expensive service, but you can create a shoebox, and when your customers leave, ask them to leave a note. How do you take those insights and build a product and a solution for them? And that’s what I did. I mean, they will tell you today, they know the difference between CX and customer services.

Clare Muscutt – host:

That’s more than a lot of businesses!

Mandisa Makubalo:

And I set up about 60 entrepreneurs at that time with absolutely nothing – I was getting nothing back. But I just felt led to do that. Every time I had done that, at the end of each of those sessions, I would attract an opportunity.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Yeah.

Mandisa Makubalo:

That’s why I always say, ‘Blessed is the hand that gives, not the one that receives,’ and that’s the principle: give, give, and it will be given unto you. But you don’t give because you want to receive; you give because you have a heart to give.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Oh, Mandisa. Honestly, I’ve got – you know when the hairs on your arms stand up listening to you.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Such an incredible connection between your purpose, your passion, and giving back and making a difference, and it’s so genuine. Honestly, I feel like I’ve got a little tear coming at the back of my eyes. I’m so moved by you and your story. There’s so much for us to learn from the realness of you, your story, and your purpose. Ah, it’s amazing.

So, how are you bringing in the corporates, then? I think there’s – just basically there’s this gap where they’re looking for black-owned businesses, they can’t seem to find them… are you filling that gap by being the connection?

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes. So, what I do once I’ve engaged with them, I will actually help them in terms of – if they don’t have a social media footprint – and I will say to them, ‘Look, nobody knows who you are if you don’t have any visibility online. That’s the reality.’ So, I would offer to help them around creating posts, how to capture images – some guys don’t even have phones – and I would say, ‘Look, I have an iPhone. Thank God!’ And I would give them my phone to use, I’d give them access to Wi-Fi, and I’d showcase their businesses either on my company website or I will showcase them on my socials, as well. I have also offered, when I have free capacity, I would sit with them and teach them how to write, to do blogging, how to create articles, how to actually just market themselves through content. They have found it helpful. I might not ever meet them again. Some of them I have met, but I know that I’ve made a difference in the lives of those businesses because I’m saying to them that, ‘Who said you have to be stuck in the township, in that small, tinned structure, for your business? You can actually own an office space.’

I started off at home, and I used to put my laptop on my lap and type. Sometimes, there was no power. I would walk around the house trying to find a stronger connection. But now today, I’m sitting in an office structure, and I’m not paying anything for this office structure. I believe that if I had not given back and been that intentional about giving back, I wouldn’t have attracted all the favour that I have been given. It’s absolute favour that I’ve been getting.

Clare Muscutt – host:

It’s so, so true, isn’t it? When you focus on the outside world and getting things for yourself, or like material gains, the world always acts against you. When you get to a place of being and giving and sharing, the opportunities find you. So, the things you may want, you don’t focus on them; you focus on being the kind of person you want to be and being in service of others. I totally agree with you.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

There’s so much power in attracting the good stuff when you’re doing the good stuff yourself.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Exactly.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Love it. So, my final question, really, is about how do you think you can support more women in historically disadvantaged communities to achieve social and economic mobility? You’ve talked a lot about creating workshops and free training – is there anything else that you’d add about supporting women to rise up?

Mandisa Makubalo:

I think – you know what happens? And something I share with my – you know, I get quite emotional, I think because there was a reason why God allowed me to walk through that season because if I had not gone through that season, I probably wouldn’t have this heart that I have; it’s been there, but now it’s at a different level. I’ll be quite honest. And it’s as a result of what I went through. And as a result of that, I would say to other women that have been through the corporate space that you don’t always have to give people money; just give them yourself. I know that my daughter has the luxury of having me to hold her hand; some young people don’t have that.

Last year, Clare – not last year – in 2018, I got to train a group of 16 to 18-year-olds. I realised, then, that what these guys, what we see is manifestation of a deeper problem. I’ll give you an example. I had a young boy in that group – I remember giving them an exercise to do – and I said to them, ‘These are strength cards, so pick up a card with the name that picks your strengths and your areas of development.’ And these guys were struggling to find their strengths, and I observed them. These guys would walk from home to come to this programme. They had no means to get here. And this one boy says, as he’s standing in the front, that he doesn’t believe in forgiveness, and everybody else started judging him. And I said – I knew there was something deeper. I asked him, ‘Talk to me. Why is that?’ This young boy says he lost his mum at the age of five. After his mum died, his dad passed away at the age of six. And after his dad passed away, his aunts and uncles took him in, but they abused him, and he had to leave this place and go live in the streets, and that’s why he struggles with forgiveness. But if I had not taken the time to really unpack and understand, I would have judged that poor boy…

Clare Muscutt – host:

Written him off.

Mandisa Makubalo:

After that programme, he came to me and he said to me, ‘Thank you,’ because he had given up hope that there are people that still believed in him, but his unforgiveness was framed by a lot of things that he did not ask for, nor did he deserve.

So, I always say to women that are in my position, ‘You don’t have to give money back to people; there is so much of you that you could give back, but we have to hold these kids by hand and walk with them.’ I do this all the time. My daughter gets tired of me sometimes because I’m always giving pep talks to her friends, but I’m also invited to different graduation ceremonies and different institutions here, where I go and speak to the youth. I share my story with them, and I think I’ve seen that it hits home and carries much more weight because I come from the township. I grew up here and I’m occupying international spaces. They see that it can be done. The fact that I did this at a time where I had absolutely nothing to my name besides Mandisa. I say to them, ‘You are not where you grew up. I did it.’ There were times at home where it would be pouring, and the rain would come in, and I would have to pick out water from the house, but I will get dressed, get up, and walk out of that house, and go fight for what I want.

So, that message really resonates with all of them in such a way that these institutions keep on saying, ‘They just want you; they don’t want anyone else.’ And I guess that’s why God had allowed me to go through that so that I can be that healing oil to all these young people. That’s why I’m so passionate about the township set-up. I believe that I can only give back here and nowhere else. So, that’s Mandisa, yes.

Clare Muscutt – host:

Oh, wow. Mandisa, honestly, this has been the most moving episode I’ve ever recorded. Just reflecting back on all of your story, your personal story, for anybody listening, it really seriously puts into perspective our struggles. You wore yours like warrior, with the absolute faith that something was going to come from it. You’re living proof that continuing to follow the path, the right path, the path of giving back, is having such a huge impact on the world. I don’t think many people can stand back and look and say that they have achieved as much as you.

So, I am absolutely so thankful that you came, and you shared this with me today and you shared it with our listeners. You’ve also really got me thinking… I’d love to have you onboard as a consultant for the Women in CX Community to think about how we can make sure that what we’re creating is accessible to women who perhaps don’t have the access to pay for a membership. How can we make sure this is available to people who really need it? So, we can have a conversation about this afterwards.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Oh, yes!

Clare Muscutt – host:

Honestly, I feel this light that you’ve shared has filled my heart, as well. So, all the way over there in South Africa, that Mandisa power is here with me right now. So, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for coming on the show.

Mandisa Makubalo:

Thank you, Clare.

Clare Muscutt – host:

And thank you for everybody listening and watching along, as well, too. We’ll see you all next week! Thank you, Mandisa. Bye bye!

Mandisa Makubalo:

Thank you, Clare. Bye!

Clare Muscutt – host:

Thanks for listening to the Women in CX podcast with me, Clare Muscutt. If you enjoyed the show, please drop us a like, subscribe, and leave a review on whichever platform you’re listening or watching on. And if you want to know more, please join us at womenincx.community, and follow the Women in CX page on LinkedIn.

Join us again next week, where I’ll be talking to a woman in CX about investing in yourself, CX in FM and IoT, and her journey to becoming a Chief Experience Officer. See you all next week!

Clare Muscutt talks with Anita Siassios, about Women in Cyber Security & building female communities

Talking about talking about CX in tech, the importance of communities for women, and the power of women supporting one another to succeed.

 

'When women support each other, incredible things happen.'

 

While both men and women benefit from having a network of well-connected peers, women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay.

 

Why? Women trying to rise up into leadership face cultural and systemic hurdles that make it harder for them to advance. 

 

We overcome the hurdles by forming close connections with others, and learn from the shared experiences of  women who have ‘been there and done that’.

Communities for women are special places that make it easier to meet others, share our challenges and find the support we need to make headway.

 

That’s why I was thrilled to have Anita Siassios on the show to talk about her experience of building communities for women in Cyber security in Australia and how she is working to include indigenous women too.

 

Tune in to hear us talk about:  

 

🤖 How Anita got into CX

🤖 The growing B2C cybersecurity risks 

🤖 Creating communities for women

🤖 Supporting indigenous women in Australia 

🤖 Acknowledging white privilege exists

🤖 The future skills needed by WICX

🤖 Building your CX peripheral vision

 

Read more and subscribe to our channels:

 

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Sign up for free newsletter  https://bit.ly/2ZDYCcB

LinkedIn https://bit.ly/3a0cDVx

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Show notes  https://bit.ly/2ZBcILF

Twitter https://bit.ly/3fzxLD2 

#womenincx #femaleentrepreneurs #inspiringwomen #womeninbusiness #womenentrepreneurs #girlboss #howtobeawesomeatcx #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen #womeninbusiness #womenownedbusiness #girlpower #femaleboss #podcast #womenincxpodcast #womenincxcommunity #claremuscutt

 

Clare Muscutt talks about Employee Experience in CX with Carolene Méli, Ex Cirque du Soleil.

Talking about joining the circus and how creating magical employee experiences and engagement drove guest experience at Cirque du Soleil.

 

“Roll up roll up, ladies and gentlemen the show is about to begin!”🎪

 

Do you remember the thrill of hearing those words?

 

Live entertainment was undoubtedly one of the hardest hit over the last 12 months, but with a vaccine in sight, I for one can’t wait to be entertained and experience the wonderment of big iconic events again.

 

I was thrilled to be joined Carolene Meli as my guest on the Women in CX podcast this week as she spent 10 years living and working on the road, leading teams of employees in cities all around the world to deliver the unforgettable guest experience that is Cirque du Soleil!

 

Tune in to hear us talk about:

🎪 Why Carolene left home & joined the circus

🎪 What it’s like to live and work on the circus road 

🎪 The challenges of delivering temporary live experiences

🎪Overcoming cultural and language barriers

🎪 How to manage employee engagement with temporary staff

🎪 Recruitment, onboarding, training, reward and recognition strategies

🎪 Creating magical guest experiences

🎪 Connecting employees with purpose

🎪 Experiencing your own CX

🎪 Carolene’s top tips 

🎪 Where she is up to now and heading next

We hope you enjoy the show!

 

Read more and subscribe to our channels:

Youtube  https://bit.ly/3jdBU2w 

Sign up for free newsletter  https://bit.ly/2ZDYCcB

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Show notes  https://bit.ly/2ZBcILF

Twitter https://bit.ly/3fzxLD2 

 

 

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