Kholiwe Makhohliso has been with Sparrow since 2014 as a trustee and has been our chairperson since 2019. She is also the Vice President of Software AG, as well as the Country MD for South Africa.
Makhohliso grew up in a small town called Mt. Ayliff, in the Eastern Cape and is the youngest of seven children. She grew up without a family car, electricity, and access to running water, but her parents ensured they invested their limited earnings in their children’s education.
Her love for education and for serving their community with compassion are principles learnt from her parents. Growing up among boys, taught Makhohliso confidence and encouraged her to find her voice and express her views without losing her femininity. In primary and high school, she attended schools that were run by female principals.
These educators were pioneers who led from the heart with compassion whilst effecting change in the schools. She admired their strong determination, influence, and how they earned respect in the communities they served. Makhohliso studied at the University of Transkei while working a part-time job which exposed her to the extreme poverty in South Africa and further developed her compassionate nature. She graduated with a BCompt in Accounting and Auditing.
At the height of her career, she decided to go back to studying and Makhohlis‘s postgraduate studies began with 4Sight Executive Leadership Programme at IESE Business School in partnership with Cranfield School of Management, followed by a Global Executive Development (GEDP) at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and then a Program for Leadership Development (PLD) at Harvard Business School.
She also completed a number of certificates, including Women on Corporate Boards through Harvard Business School. She has also been nominated to serve as a board member of the Harvard Business School Alumni Board for a period of 3 years, ending 2023, an achievement for an African child coming from humble beginnings.
Makhohliso is a compassionate, empathetic, humble and kind leader, an incredibly successful leadership style she developed for herself. For any young women who would like to follow in Makhohliso’s footsteps, her advice is “When you set a goal for yourself, refuse to let go until you have achieved it. My motto is ‘be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.’ ”