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Gone are the days when South African employees entered the workforce and continued their careers doing much of the same thing until retirement, and more traditional career paths, like accounting or law, were seen as the only way to truly be successful. What’s more, not knowing which career or study direction is right for you, or not having the opportunity to study further after school, no longer needs to hold you back.

Xoe Mfokazi, Operations Manager at TransUnion’s Global Capability Centre (GCC) Africa, says that the growing, dynamic global business services (GBS) sector offers so many prospects for work-seekers at all stages of their careers.

“There are opportunities for matriculants with limited work experience, and people who are still studying, have graduated, or are working,” she says. “We need people who are hungry for career growth in a constantly evolving industry, who are ready to embrace opportunities to learn in-demand skills and gain relevant qualifications while earning a salary.”

Mbali Ndimande, now part of the team that manages TransUnion’s insurance sector customer deals at the GCC Africa, says that despite having a sports management degree, matching career doors didn’t open for her and, years after graduating, she was about to give up on ever finding stable employment. But that changed when she accepted a learnership with the GCC Africa in 2022: “Initially, I worked in the client operations department in a call centre role. I provided TransUnion’s business in the United States with project support. The learning experience was unmatched and I was exposed to a whole new world of business. My journey since then has seen me take on different roles and continually up-skill along the way.”

Mfokazi’s experience parallels that of Ndimande. Having started as a GBS call centre agent more than 20 years ago, she moved up to become a team leader, and then transitioned into HR and recruitment, where she sourced talent for the sector. From there, she filled various support and operational roles — still within the sector — and continued to invest un herself by pursuing as many upskilling opportunities as possible. Today, she heads up operations for the GCC Africa. “I have gone from providing telephonic support to performing a leadership function in a company that services business lines all over the world. You could say that I took an alternative path to success, and that the GBS sector supported my career growth.”

The future of GBS is bright

South Africa’s GBS sector is thriving. According to industry body BPESA, the sector currently employs over 240,000 agents, around 50,000 of whom are solely supporting international businesses. The possibility of servicing global clients and being exposed to global best practices while still living in South Africa is a significant benefit of joining the GBS sector.

Mfokazi explains that, because South Africa has become a hub for international companies wanting to expand their workforce, the services have to be available 24/7 and some employers give their staff the freedom to choose their own working hours. At the GCC Africa, this opens up opportunities for those who have fixed family or other commitments, while the company’s hybrid model also means that differently-abled people can work from their homes. For Ndimande, the GCC Africa is enabling her to build a bright future for her and her child. It has given her flexibility to work around her childcare commitments.

But alternative career pathing goes a lot further than accessibility. What is important is getting a foot in the door at a company that is willing to invest in your skills and career while you find your niche.

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