As chair of the Stellenbosch University (SU) Students’ Representative Council (SRC), Viwe Kobokana wants to ensure that all students have a say in decisions that affect them. She also uses her position to help others on their leadership journey.
As part of SU’s Women’s Month celebrations, Viwe tells us more about her role and the leadership qualities it requires.
Tell us more about your role at Stellenbosch University.
The SRC chair is responsible for bringing a group of diverse leaders together and channelling their energy and skills to achieve the SRC’s mandates. I am responsible for ensuring that words are turned into actions and for supporting members wherever possible to ensure that our projects are executed. As chair, I am also the spokesperson for the SRC and the students we represent.
What do you enjoy most about this role?
I enjoy being present in rooms where decisions are made, and knowing that I am giving a voice to those who would otherwise not have been represented there. I also enjoy being able to guide others on their own leadership journey, while my own exposure to so many different people allows me to grow at the same time.
What do you think are the key leadership qualities to fulfil your role?
It is important to be good at public speaking and articulating your opinions. One should also be assertive, able to delegate, manage your time well, have good organisational skills, and be kind, patient and open-minded. Honestly, there are many more qualities, but I would say these are at the top of the list.
Leadership roles are demanding. What keeps you motivated?
I remember the goals that I wrote down when I decided to take on this leadership role – the changes I wanted to bring about and the growth that I wanted for myself as well. When I see myself achieving each of them, I realise I am where I need to be at this point in time.
What would your message be to the next generation of aspiring female leaders?
Your own needs are important also. Many people in leadership get sucked into prioritising their role and forget to prioritise themselves. Student leaders especially neglect their academics, their friendships and even their self-care. It is important to set boundaries and protect your personal life from the demands of leadership. It is okay to say no, it is okay to take a break, it is okay not to be available all the time. As much as leadership is about serving others, you have to serve yourself as well.
- Photo by Stefan Els.