By Mzukona Mantshontsho
CAMBRIDGE WEIGHT PLAN has helped over 30-million slimmers reach their goal weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Cambridge Weight Plan is a direct selling business which provides business opportunities for sustainable entrepreneurship.
I recently had a chat with Managing Director at Cambridge Weight Plan Renny Letswalo about her personal, professional and entrepreneurial journey thus far.
Tell me about your early life, work history to date, professional development over the years, and your role today at Cambridge Weight Plan.
I was born and bred in Pimville, Soweto. I went to various schools all over the world during my young life. I like to say I got schooled in many systems across South Africa and across the world. I first schooled in junior primary and senior primary in the apartheid system. My high school and university
Experience was what they called Bantustan (homelands) education in Bophuthatswana. I then went to Wits University in post-apartheid South Africa and did my second undergrad degree and post grad diplomas at Potchefstroom, which was semi-Afrikaans at the time. Afterwards, I studied an MBA at the University of Chicago and it was there that I experienced a mix of British, Asian and American systems and cultures. I also recently studied at the University of Tasmania in Australia for a Dementia Certification. I will never stop learning. I am a lifelong student.
In my career, I worked in different places as well, and different industries. It’s not in my nature to stick to one place and one industry. I seem to flourish in areas where I know learning will challenge me. My first job was in communication for the first post-apartheid government right in the heart of Pretoria (that was new area to me), where I monitored the media and news clips for the new Ministers in Government while supporting the Ministers’ spokespersons. After 8 months I was feeling uninspired and looked for new job. I was fortunate enough to land a graduate position at VW in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape. I had no idea where that was but I wanted the position and so I went for it. I stayed there for close to 5 years, learning and growing in every area of Marketing. I was still young then and felt I needed to get back to the buzzing city and so I moved back to Joburg where I worked for Edgars for 2 years. After that I moved to Absa and worked there for 10 years.
Soon after the 2010 World Cup I felt exhausted and decide to take it easy for 2 years. Eight months into my sabbatical I found myself employed again in the petroleum Industry, working for BP in marketing where I quickly moved up in the ranks to manage the entire network of service stations. After almost 7 years, I ventured out on my own as an entrepreneur which is how I found myself in my current role as the Managing Director of Cambridge Weight Plan Southern Africa and Founder of
Inheritance Academy, a coaching Institute.
What does your role mean to you and what do you do daily?
My role means a great deal to me especially since it’s a company that I started from scratch and I was able to put all my education and job experience into practise on something I regard as my calling.
What I do daily involves multiple tasks such as, strategizing on the future of the business, developing and implementing all business strategies from operations, finances and marketing as well as communicating with various stakeholders that have an impact on my business, from the clients to the consultants who I partner with, to service providers and bank managers. It’s the entirety of the business and each day I touch on different things. One day is never the same as the other and I love that all the input I have goes towards building a sustainable business that will help many South Africans live healthy lives and establish their own sustainable businesses, too.
What are you currently working on and what can we expect from you going forward at Cambridge Weight Plan?
I am currently working on relaunching the brand to become the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan. We are developing a new website, new marketing platforms and new creative elements. At the same time, we are increasing our network of consultants. The rebrand launched on 1st September.
Now you can expect Cambridge Weight Plan in Southern Africa to grow even bigger. We have a mission that we call a Million-A-Mission – we want to help over a one-hundred-thousand individuals to achieve a healthy weight and we want to create a thousand sustainable entrepreneurs by supporting them to become accredited Independent Consultants. But that isn’t all because we also want to create an outreach program to feed one-million malnourished children.
What initiative (if implemented) would leave the greatest impact for you at Cambridge Weight Plan?
Cambridge Weight Plan is my legacy business. If our Million-A-Mission vision is reached then my impact will have been made. We still have a long and exciting journey ahead of us to achieve our goals. You can count me leaving all this behind when retirement calls in 20 to 30 years from now.
What would you change if you had all the powers in the world?
Our food systems and the way people relate to food and their health.
What would you say are the most critical resources for your successful leadership? How would people describe you as a Leader?
I think leaders with a purpose are most successful not only in their own life but also in the lives of others and the entire planet.
I hope that people would describe me as a leader who gives others the opportunity to be their best and do their best.
What is the legacy that you would want to leave by the time you retire?
Million-A-Mission as it really is the legacy I want to have lived up to when I decide all is done.
How does Cambridge Weight Plan contribute to the community?
We contribute by just doing what we do to help others become healthy or build sustainable businesses and ultimately contribute to feeding less fortunate children who go without food.
What have been the highs and lows in your working career?
I don’t think I really have lows in my career. Every challenge has been an opportunity to learn and grow. Every challenge has ended up being a high for me in terms of learning. So, I would definitely say that my highs are all the difference experiences I have been offered or managed to create for myself. It’s been a blast!
What are your words of advice, inspiration, and encouragement for young people to a start small business?
Start a business that you know is rooted in your purpose, in that you don’t have to feel like you are working but rather just living your life. But do take NOTE: Owning a business is a 24/7 adventure so you must be geared for it and you must put the time into all aspects of the business including your own development. If you can, also learn under someone experienced and milk every bit of the learning experiences the person has to offer.
What are your thoughts on Covid-19 in terms of small businesses?
The pandemic has been very hard on small businesses but we will hopefully live to tell the tale. At the moment, the best each business can do is to try stay afloat by managing costs to the lowest, trying to sell as much as you can and revamping for the future. This too shall pass.
When you not at work, what do you get up to, including family life?
I have a husband and three beautiful girls, so I spend most of my free time with them. I love traveling, so every opportunity I get I plan a trip of some sort to see different places and meet different people and create new learning experiences. If I am not with my family, I am with friends running marathons across the world.
I am about creating the life I want, so I focus on seeing how that may be possible.
Mzukona Mantshontsho is the founder of Nyakaza Media Solutions. Nyakaza Media Solutions is an organisation that was established to help community organisations, business entities, and schools to research, write, document, report, analyse, edit, publish newsletters or bulletins in hard-copy, on-line and maintain websites with the relevant content as per the editorial policy of that organisation, school or entity.
Nyakaza Media Solutions has a vision to promote and bring dialogue to communities, businesses and schools about issues that affect them.
Nyakaza Media Solutions is on a mission to develop and encourage communities, businesses and learners to celebrate the good, applaud excellence, welcome growth, strive to be better individuals, businesses and communities, want more knowledge, discourage bad and counter-productive behaviour as well as communities, businesses and learners that want to be great SOUTH AFRICANS.
Nyakaza Media Solutions is making use of Yo School Magazine as a platform that learners in all schools to make use of to write their stories.