Kershnee Govender was appointed as the Corporate Affairs Director of M-Net in November 2013. Prior to joining M-Net, Kershnee was the Corporate Affairs Manager at Sasol. She joined Sasol in 2007 as Corporate Affairs Manager of Sasol Polymers and later joined Sasol Gas as Stakeholder Relations and Communication Specialist. A people’s person at heart, Kershnee was instrumental in positioning the organisation through marketing communication activities targeted at the diverse stakeholder groupings.
In addition to this, she was responsible for the development and delivery of corporate social investment campaigns that served to uplift communities in which Sasol operates in various parts of South Africa. In her personal capacity, Kershnee and her family are active volunteers, spending weekends supporting feeding programmes. Before joining Sasol, Kershnee was the Communication Manager at Nedbank.
Her experience in the financial services sector started at ABSA as the Account Executive for Group Communication and Marketing. Prior to joining the financial services sector, Kershnee worked for the electricity public utility, Eskom, where she started her career in the corporate affairs space at their Kwazulu Natal operation. Through her public liaison activities at Eskom, Kershnee was able to raise safety awareness among rural communities living in proximity to the utility provider’s assets. Recognising the need to nurture talented youth in business, Kershnee is a strong advocate of mentoring relationships and believes mentorship is a powerful vehicle for empowerment. She is passionate about upskilling future generations.
She also maintains a mentor herself, as she believes one should never stop learning and growing. Kershnee holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Organisational Communication from the University of South Africa and is accredited as a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner from PRISA. Kershnee is married and has two children – Suranya, thirteen and Tayern who is nine.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.
Ever since I was little my take-charge attitude, even at playtime, was a sign that I was destined to become a leader. As I grew I was quite clear about the kind of role I needed to play in life and work and the kind of lifestyle I wanted. Although I didn’t quite know how to craft a strategy to attain that goal, the goal was never diluted nor did it shift. Maneuvering through school was easy, as I had achieved ample academic success and social recognition. When my dad lost his job my focus had to be shifted, as I could no longer afford to go to university straight after school. When a very junior position arose at Eskom, I applied and was successful.
I studied part-time while holding down a full-time job. It was a huge adjustment for me, as I had to work harder than most to make people realize that I had potential beyond what was required in the role I occupied. Being young, inexperienced and intimated by huge personalities was quite daunting. It sometimes felt like I was running a hard race all on my own and now when I look back I know how much easier my journey would’ve been had I had a mentor.
You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.
Firstly, I am blessed to work for an organisation that is genuine about uplifting the lives of others. Taking into consideration my own life lessons and utilising the platform I have within my organisation I have put together a programme that brings role players from across the industry together all with a single vision of seeing the next generation of industry professionals succeed and thrive. I understand the value of a solid academic background therefore this initiative is targeted at recruiting graduates from film schools across South Africa for a year-long internship. During this time M-Net will ensure that the interns get exposure to advice and mentoring from various film and TV professionals with an aim to making them work-ready and highly employable post the internship.
Secondly, many of us in the job sector tend to forget about how oblivious young school learners could be to career opportunities that exist. It is for this reason that we have initiated a plan to exhibit the various careers available in the Film and TV industry. We have taken our expo a step further where we not only get learners to interact with and see what industry professionals do on a daily basis, we have also partnered with tertiary institutions to exhibit the courses they have on offer and we have also partnered with financial institutions to advise learners on how best to fund their studies.
Finally, I am very passionate about mentorship. We are starting a mentorship circle within M-Net where employees are partnered with final year tertiary institution students to mentor and guide them as they take the bold leap from studying to working.
What is it that you are passionate about?
As I mentioned, there is so much wisdom that can be shared by people who have trodden this path before us. I am passionate about creating platforms to facilitate the transfers of skills and knowledge to young, up and coming people. I also believe that we each have an obligation to invest in the youth of our country to ensure that they can become as successful as their potential allows them to be.
What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
The realisation that one could lose your job, your job title and even the lifestyle that you’ve become accustomed to. But the one thing you could never lose is your education. I realised that investing in my education, learning and growth was the best investment I could ever make.
What is your personal “motto”?
My personal motto is that the only person you need to impress over and over again is yourself.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Firstly, don’t be afraid of reaching out for help and guidance. Secondly, nobody expects you to know everything so it’s okay to show vulnerability.
What are your top 3 business tips?
- Know who you are and be secure with that.
- Be genuine and sincere in all interactions.
- Nurture relationships like your life depends on it.
What advice would you give to women wanting to follow their dreams?
Be clear about where you ultimately see yourself regardless of how outrageous it may seem in relation to your current situation. Then, like working out a maze, remain realistic that you will encounter dead-ends and brick walls but keep telling yourself that you will find your way back to the correct path. And, remember to reach out to people. You would be amazed at how readily people will help if you just ask
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
I have one sibling, an older brother. He too grew up in difficult financial circumstances but he was steadfast about the fact that he was going to be successful and nothing would deter him. In his matric year, he contracted meningitis and had to write his matric exams in hospital. He persevered and passed with great results despite being so ill. He is passionate and determined to keep striving. Just when I think that he’s reached the pinnacle of his career he surprises us by informing us of yet another great achievement. All the while he has remained grounded and humble. I am so proud, in awe and completely inspired by him.
Your favourite daily affirmation:
Always march to your own beat…it’s a rhythm only you know.
Your favourite quote:
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but reveal to them their own”. ~Benjamin Disraeli
Which book are you reading now?
I am reading Ndumiso Ngcobo’s book “Eat, drink and blame the ancestors”. I have a deep appreciation for everything humorous and I also love a great piece of writing. Ngcobo’s work hits both those spots for me.