Aubrey Shabane - Perseverance, hard work and ambitious goal-setting have been the cornerstones of my success


Acting CEO of the KZN Growth Fund

AUBREY SHABANE says that when he was 17 years old, he compiled his bucket list of "Top 25 things to achieve before I die".

To this day, he still has that original handwritten list. "This list has been my roadmap and inspiration for success and 19 of these items have been achieved. Perseverance, hard work and ambitious goalsetting have been the cornerstones of my success."

After completing matric, Shabane's family could not afford to send him to university and he ended up going to a teacher's college, where he completed a three year teaching diploma. His first job was as a teacher in a rural school in Bergville and he later worked at a youth centre in Newcastle.

Whilst teaching, he studied part time and completed a BCom degree and a BTech degree. However, he said, "It proved very difficult for me to change careers after obtaining my qualifications as I already had what prospective employers in the financial services termed wrong experience."

To utilise the knowledge gained from his studies, Shabane started his own small Information Technology business in 2000, which he operated until 2005, when it was sold.

Shabane's big break came in 2005 when he was awarded the prestigious Nelson Mandela Scholarship, that saw him going to Leeds in the United Kingdom to study for his MBA, which he completed cum laude. It was on his return from the United Kingdom that he joined the Deloitte's corporate finance division in Johannesburg. He said, "This was the break that allowed me to pursue my passion, which was in investment and financing."

However, he said that changing careers very late in life, from a teaching background to the financial services industry, was very challenging. He commented, "Based on my age then, there was always an assumption that I had the requisite experience and therefore expected to lead teams of people that were younger but more experienced than myself."

The demands of his management roles, soon resulted in him developing the required people skills. "My leadership style is largely influenced by my humble beginnings, which ingrained in me the spirit of Ubuntu and service. In my leadership roles, I always ensure that I put together a diverse team made up of highly motivated individuals, with complementary skillsets.

As a leader, I then create an appropriate culture and environment that foster high-performance and teamwork. This ensures that I don't have to micromanage but rather play a role of a mentor and a coach to my team."

His career path saw him later joining Ithala Development Finance Corporation, The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and then the KZN Growth Fund. Shabane is currently the acting CEO of the KZN Growth Fund.

Over the years, Shabane has have been involved in the originating, assessing and ultimate financing of new business ventures worth billions of rands that have created thousands of jobs. He commented, "It has been very fulfilling for me to see the faces of people whose lives have been impacted by the developmental funding that I have overseen."

Currently, tough economic conditions, changes in regulations and a forever changing business landscape is forcing an organisation like KZN Growth Fund to continuously evolve and adapt its offerings. Shabane is confident that the KZN Growth Fund is poised to seize the opportunities created by these changes. The organisation has recently established an Equity Fund alongside its traditional Debt Fund to respond to new economic demands.

"The KZN Growth Fund team is working hard on fundraising for the newly established Equity Fund. This Fund will ensure that we unlock a significant number of projects that have received debt funding from other financial institutions but are struggling to raise equity funding. Furthermore, our involvement in the execution and implementation of the dti's Black Industrialist Scheme is beginning to bear fruit and can be evidenced by the three projects that we have to date co-funded as part of the scheme."

Shabane lives in Pietermaritzburg and is the father of three beautiful daughters. "My favourite past times are DIY work as I enjoy carpentry work, an occasional golf game and going to the gym."

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