Youth & Influence: Aurelia Nxumalo

The Professionista/Aurelia Nxumalo

In a 2018 campaign with a hair care brand, Aurelia was described as a strong feminist, warrior, fighter, and resilient, amongst many other empowered descriptions you can think to mention. And upon getting to know her through this interview, one quickly learns that aside from all that she is described as, more over she is truly gentle in who she is, and stands firmly in what she believes in and knows to identify a good opportunity, not only for herself but for others as well.

As a budding social entrepreneur, Aurelia Nxumalo is the cofounder of The Professionista, and is the lead in Legal & Transformation at Youth Economic Alliance which is a nonprofit organization that was established to drive the development and advancement of youth entrepreneurship in South Africa. Hailing from Durban, in Kwa-Zulu Natal she was raised by her grandparents who are academics in their own right and its no surprise why she went on to academically advance her own career as she currently holds an LLB degree, a compliance certificate from one of South Africa’s leading universities UCT, and most recently she completed her postgraduate diploma in contract drafting and interpretation.

She hasn’t only amassed herself with qualifications over the years, because while working and studying she was a finalist in the Miss Earth SA peagent and of late her most rewarding job of all has been being a mother of 2.

Aurelia shares that she knew very early on in her life that she would always go on to pursue a career as a corporate lawyer and anyone who can be that decisive about a career in those formative years is bound to come by some success and its no wonder she has successfully gone through the challenges of trying to be a young woman navigating a career in law, pursing her pageantry interests and going on to found an importantly socially impactful virtually space for women.

Along with her business partner, Buhle Mbele they went on to create a space for themselves and women alike where they could virtually share experiences.

“The Professionista is virtual space in which women in corporate can connect, impart, teach, inspire and unite for those entering the corporate world to your seasoned corporate women and further likeminded community of women for women to share valuable information with each other.”

In recognizing her own empowerment, Aurelia seeks to reach different women who she herself can share her own experience with and to help those who look up to her. She shares that the idea of passing the baton is what creates a foundation for the work they are looking to achieve through the platform. A firm believer in collaboration over competition, it will be no surprise the kind of positive movement and change the platform can bring into the lives of many other young women who need the opportunity to be heard, assisted and encouraged.

Her work as a social entrepreneur doesn’t just end with The Professionistsa. Having identified the struggle of the young girls around the country who do not have access to sanitary towels, Aurelia has began to work on HERSHIMA, a pad initiative that can ensure monthly access to pads for young girls who are disadvantaged. True to who she is as described, the name for the initiative means dignity, shares Aurelia.

Of course no long road to changing your own life and those of others comes with no challenges, and we asked her about her most pressing issues with being a woman in law and a business owner. Unequal pay, is top of her list of concerns along with lack of diversity and sexism in the corporate world. Highlighting President Ramaphosa’s recent cabinet announcement that for the first time we have a 50% all equal gender parity, and she asks why is this only occurring now and that this is an indication of how women everywhere continue to be overlooked.

Aurelia has not let some set backs break her spirit though, noting that for a great portion of her life she had never academically experienced failure and that when in her second year she got a supplementary exam she was inconsolable but has since learnt that to manage everything better. She does not allow societal pressure to steer her off her timeline of goals and aspirations.

Success is a personal definition and you have to attain it at your own pace.

In noting that with every challenge she has been through, every set back was preparing her for who she is and where she is now.

We asked her, what she looked forward to the most in the next five years and impressively she wants to continue her social pursuits looking to grow The Professionista platform, and she wishes to see the global success of her sanitary pad initiative and above all she aspires to be an advocate at the United Nations for the African girl child.

Aurelia has every intention to continuously study towards her Masters of Law, and to go on to dominate in the corporate legal field and to solidify herself as a Chief Legal Advisor at one of the Major financial institutions.

It is no surprise why she mentions that what set her part as a working woman is her self disciple and self awareness. Which of course teaches us all that every form of success begins with our ability to recognise our own strengths.

In her words of encouragement, she says that there is no better time than now for girls to band together and make their voices heard.

These are such inspiring words to close off our Youth & Influence campaign and we hope that you all feel empowered by the words and stories shared here with us. Aurelia highlights the importance of initiating conversations towards a progressive and sustainable solution for the African girl child, as she invites you to grab a seat at her table and every other with the kind hearted hashtag, #YouCANsitWithUs.

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