Growing up on the Cape Flats, Kim was exposed to many social ills such as substance abuse, gangsterism and poverty where she witnessed the youth in her community fall prey to these elements.

It was her will and perseverance that propelled her desire to not become a statistic, but to instead, rise above and become a strong, educated and talented woman of colour who challenges and changes narratives. “I recognise that my life’s journey represents the hope and potential that lies within so many of our youth in dire communities, where we are not defined by the environment or circumstance, we find ourselves in, but by having vision and direction for our lives so we may break cycles, achieve our goals, and further set the foundation for the next generation.”Xtraordinary Woman of the Month Kim-Lee Wentzel-Ricketts

Kim-Lee’s passion for people development saw her register her non-profit organization called KHANYISA WORX (Khanyisa meaning “light” in Xhosa) with a focus on developing and upskilling youth and women through various workshops and mentorship programmes she developed to cultivate a community of forward-thinkers who are empowered, responsible and ethical.

Through her organization, she hopes to further identify and aid the growing need for skills development to better equip individuals to set and achieve their goals. Kim-Lee also lends her knowledge and skill set to the music and fashion industry, as brand manager for JBR Productions where she works with South African Music Award Nominee singer/performer/designer (and now husband) Jarrad Ricketts, and clothing brand TESTIMONY.

She has also launched her own fashion range called: “The Ricketts’ by Kim” and supports other female-owned businesses with design and manufacturing of her brand. Kim-Lee was called upon by Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2020 as keynote speaker, addressing aspiring musicians from various tertiary institutions where she gave insight into effective artist branding, marketing, and management. She currently speaks to youth, scholars and corporates across the Western Cape by collaborating with organizations such as the Kay Mason Foundation, Liquorice Digital Marketing Agency, TEFFCOE and many more. 

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I am a dynamic, creative and determined individual, with a keen passion for the development of people, their skills and ensuring that they have the tools in place to reach and execute their full potential.

I am also a registered psychologist holding a Masters’ degree in Industrial Psychology and simultaneously using my skills and influence to initiate and develop people and make a difference. I work within Organisational Effectiveness and my focus areas include working in Culture, Diversity & Inclusion across Africa, especially within the LGBTQIA+ spaces, Employee Value Proposition, and Employee Wellbeing. My current projects involve hybrid working and setting up organisations for the future world of work. I also have experience in Change Management, Organisational Development and Design, Talent Management, and Psychometric Assessments. I am currently completing my PhD in Health Sciences with a focus on developing a parenting programme that will facilitate empowering conversations in families for decision making and readying them to navigate the future world of work.

My experience extends to working as a consultant and business partner at senior management level, delivering high-level strategic input and best practice I have broad expertise across a range of industries, including strategic HR planning, talent management, HR transformation, performance development, change management and organisational development. My track record extends to delivering and implementing HR plans and initiatives that transform HR organisations and measurably support business objectives. In 2021, I added author to my multi-feathered hat when I contributed to a book called “Industrial-Organisational Psychologists Engaging with the New World of Work.”

I spend a lot of my time giving back to communities through various motivational talks, connecting with corporates and scholars, especially youth, to exchange knowledge and experiences from my journey…but to also be a voice of encouragement and an example of perseverance.

As a businesswoman, I have reached personal milestones, having launched my own clothing label that is currently stocked online at various boutiques across the Western Cape, and my NPO called Khanyisa Worx, where my focus is on the development and empowerment of women of all ages. 

Please tell us a little more about how your company came about.

My passion for people development led to the registration of my non-profit organization called KHANYISA WORX (Khanyisa meaning “light” in Xhosa) with a focus on developing and upskilling youth and women through various workshops and mentorship programmes I developed to cultivate a community of forward-thinkers who are empowered, responsible and ethical.

Through my organization, I hope to further identify and aid the growing need for skills development to better equip individuals to set and achieve their goals. I also lend my knowledge and skill set to the music and fashion industry, as brand manager for JBR Productions where I work with and alongside South African Music Award Nominee singer/performer/designer (and now husband) Jarrad Ricketts, and clothing brand TESTIMONY.

Please tell us more about the interesting initiatives you are currently busy with.  

In 2021, I launched my own fashion range called: “The Ricketts’ by Kim” and support other female-owned businesses with design and manufacturing of my brand. I have also been approached by various malls and boutiques to house my range so this year I will focus on expanding my range and possibly growing this business venture by collaborating with more boutiques.

I am also the Brand Ambassador for a beauty studio whose vision and passion are to upskill and empower young females within the community with a platform and training ground to reach their potential. 

Please tell us a little more about the various panels you feature on that address’s issues such as mental wellbeing, burnout, and employee engagement.

In 2020, I was called upon by Cape Town International Jazz Festival as keynote speaker, addressing aspiring musicians from various tertiary institutions where I gave insight into effective artist branding, marketing, and management. I also currently speak to youth, scholars and corporates across the Western Cape by collaborating with organizations such as the Kay Mason Foundation, Liquorice Digital Marketing Agency, TEFFCOE and many more addressing the challenge of the future world of work and how to remain resilient in this ever-changing world. I am part of regular corporate panels where I address topics such as “Hybrid working”, “Psychological Safety”, “Burnout”, Employee engagement, “Self-care” and “Self-love”. I also feature regularly on Cape Talk where I speak to listeners about topics such as toxic positivity, job hopping, future world of work, mental health and wellness as well as sharing tools on how people can hone in on and improve their skill set to better navigate their professional journey. 

What is it that you are passionate about?

Being a leader and change maker has always been a part of my nature. The reason for me embarking on this career path is my passion for people development and helping individuals reach their full potential. I am always intrigued by innovation, and how corporates can navigate within the 4th industrial revolution to better themselves and their environment to create inclusive spaces that are conducive to personal and professional development. 

Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

My surroundings have always been my biggest influence. Being a woman of colour from the Cape Flats, it was quite apparent that I needed to use the power of education to not only elevate myself, but to also break false narratives that curb so many people from my community from persevering and creating the life that they have always wanted to live. I saw very quickly that the things we consider our setbacks can actually become the driving force to catapult us forward when we reprogram our thinking, becoming resourceful and use what we have at our disposal…starting where you are at and having a vision for how far you can go.

What is your personal “motto”?

“#EmpoweredWomenEmpowerWomen”

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

As we learn and grow, we must plough back, strengthening the bridge of enlightenment that all may cross over it and reach their full potential. We have the power to uplift and empower each other to thrive and be the change that we want to see. Use what you have to affect and effect change – share your knowledge, experience and be another’s opportunity to then pay it forward.

Who or what is your inspiration and why?

I am always inspired by the idea that in life we always have a choice, and that is a powerful tool when you truly realize it. Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily challenges, we lose sight of the fact that we are always in the driver’s seat. This always inspires me to know that I can choose what I will and will not allow into my space, I can decide just how far I want to go in life, and I can choose my reaction. When you truly understand the power of CHOICE, you can take charge, achieve and live by your own standards.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Always be ready for the unplanned, unforeseen and the spontaneity that comes with the everchanging tides life can bring. As long as your sails of possibility are always open to the winds of change, you’ll never need to resist the flow, and in that flow, you’ll eventually step into your purpose.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

‘Because she believed she could, she did.”        

Your favourite quote:

Sometimes you can be so poor, the only thing you have is money.

Which book are you currently reading:

I’m currently reading the book I contributed to and co-authored called “Industrial-Organisational Psychologists Engaging with the New World of Work.”

Do you have any tips for employees on handling the current pandemic/offer advice to those who seek tips on handling the current work culture (office and from home)?

  • Be kind to yourself – adjusting to this new world of work can be a challenge.
  • Feel what you need to feel – don’t be afraid to speak up and express how you are feeling.
  • Be prepared to embrace change as this is the only constant.
  • Set a routine and agree with your team ways of working that work for you to create a sense of team – virtually and in office.
  • Be aware and purposeful of the energy you are bringing into the space ensuring that there is trust and a safe space where all feel heard and cared for (Psychological Safety and trust).
  • Take time to exercise self-care – Put YOU first. 

What are your top 3 business tips?

  • Always remain inquisitive – stay hungry and open to pushing boundaries.
  • Do your research – never stop learning. If you don’t know, Google!
  • Be open to collaboration – there is power in togetherness. No man is an island so be open to reaching out and extending your network to help others and you grow.

What would you say is your secret to success?

Putting my hand up and saying yes to challenges and not being afraid to fail as it is within that failure that growth happens.

One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share:

Don’t compare your life or your achievements against others. Remember that you are your biggest competition, so everything you do should be aimed at being better than you were yesterday.

Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?

Keep on providing spaces and a platform to promote, grow and showcase women…Each one, teach one!

Contact Information:
Facebook: Kim-Lee Wentzel-Ricketts
Instagram: @kimlee_ricketts
LinkedIn: Kim-Lee Wentzel-Ricketts

Submitted by: Clayton Morar Media