It is commonly stated that people do not talk about losers; they talk about winners. It’s no surprise that Akhona Mosiane is the talk of the town. The young Eastern Cape-born entrepreneur has made it a point to show upcoming young girls that it is possible to achieve leadership positions in the automotive industry.
Transform SA spoke to Akhona Mosiane to learn more about her business journey.
Q: Can you give us some background on Akhona? In what city were you raised?
I am originally from Nqamakwe, a small town in the Eastern Cape where my parents have retired. I was born in Odendaalsrus, where I completed my education. Due to his lack of education, my father used to work as a Machine Operator underground in the mines. He did, however, raise four children, three of whom attended tertiary institutions and earned degrees and diplomas.
Q: Where did you attend to school?
From primary to high school, I attended government schools. I attended Mpucuko Primary School and Rearabetswe Secondary School. I had a few teachers who did everything they could for any student who was willing to go the extra mile. I then attended the University of the Free State to pursue my BCom Accounting degree. Funny enough, I used to count until grade 12 because it was the standard for finishing school in my family and surrounding community, and being a pick n pay teller was “thee” job.
Q: How did the decision to open a dealership come about?
My first job out of college was as a Bookkeeper in the Admin Department of a dealership. After that, I was promoted to Accountant and then to Trainee Financial Manager. I was fascinated by the interactions between salespeople, service advisors, and departmental managers. I wanted to work in operations, and an opportunity presented itself in the form of a Trainee General Managers program pioneered by Barloworld. I got the job and have never looked back since. I knew when I was 23 that I didn’t want to be working at 35 because I wanted to make a difference.
I looked into opportunities outside of the automotive industry. However, they did not captivate me as much as automobiles did. In 2020, I began talking with a colleague about taking any opportunity that presented itself in the automotive industry, and we were fortunate enough that it was with a brand that we both love and are passionate about. We have been fortunate to meet people who are simply outstanding human beings and who have helped us at every turn to make our dream a reality.
Q: Can you say you’ve changed the automotive industry?
Yes, I can, however, the change has been really on a small scale. When I joined the Automotive Industry you could count female managers on one hand. Even the ones that made it through had to work 10 times harder to be considered for promotion and career advancement, especially in Dealership promotions. My role has been to show young girls that there is a career in Automotive and they don’t just have to be receptionists, Invoicing Clerks, Sales people etc., they can get to Leadership positions. Is it hard? Yes, it is but it can be done.
Q: What difficulties did you encounter when you first started out?
When I became a manager, I was 23 years old. My team consisted of a 57-year-old, a 48-year-old, and a 45-year-old. The other team members were young, but older than me. There were only two females on the team, myself and a Finance and Insurance Manager who also reported to me. Every decision I made was second-guessed by the older team members.
I was the first to arrive at work and the last to leave, ensuring that I covered all of the fundamentals and knew my story. I went above and beyond to be able to do what each of my Team members did, so I sold cars, invoiced cars, delivered cars, and maintained excellent relationships with banks for customer financing. This shaped and aided me greatly when I became General Manager because I understood exactly how each department functions and how everything works together to produce the desired results.
Q: How did you overcome such difficulties?
For me to be promoted to General Manager I had to be the best performer in the franchise and unfortunately the industry still has its brassiness. I had to fight for everything that I have achieved. It was hard but I never ever thought of quitting, I always thought that I must be there, be vocal and if it means I will lose my job so be it.
Even though it can be challenging, I have always stood for truth and treated every situation objectively without relying on emotion. Furthermore, I have always protected my team, ensuring that no outsider can disrespect my team, and as a result I have earned the respect of nearly everyone I work with. Fairness and toughness go hand in hand for me.
Q: How has the business grown since its inception?
We’ve been running for two months and have had teething problems like any new business, but the encouraging part is that business is good because our workshops are full.
Q: What are your business’s long-term goals?
God willing, the goal is to acquire more businesses in order to effect meaningful change in the Black community. We want to hire as many Black females as possible, groom future business leaders, and encourage entrepreneurship.
Q: To a young lady who also have the same dreams of venturing into this space, what advice would you give?
If your dream does not scare you, it is simply not big enough; however, that fear should be what motivates you to pursue it. Challenge the status quo, don’t settle for anything less than what you want, and trust in God in everything.