The word “champion” embodies attributes such as excellence, strength, and courage. It is often used to describe individuals who have attained greatness and are recognized as leaders in their field. Additionally, it connotes triumph over adversity and the taste of success. A champion is someone who commands respect, admiration, and serves as an inspiration to others. They exemplify what can be achieved through hard work, dedication, and passion. Ultimately, they represent hope and motivation. To me that is Fikile Kuhlase.
I recently received news of the early retirement of Fikile Kuhlase, one of South Africa’s top CSI champions, also known as Sisi Fix by her close colleagues. Having worked with her in the past, I cannot help but express my thoughts on this matter. Sisi Fix is not just a mere player in the field; she embodies true leadership.
I still remember the first time I met her years ago when CSR News was still a mere concept. She was the first person to believe in me and my team, investing in our potential by hiring us to write an article for her. Despite not having a team of editors at the time, she paid for the job and even edited the article herself. She empowered us to grow and showed us that in the CSI industry, our job is to help communities and companies with half-baked proposals.
After leaving her previous company, Sisi Fix launched her own venture and quickly landed a job at the United Nations. She then became the head of Old Mutual Foundation. Sisi Fix was not afraid to take risks and break barriers in the industry. She reformed her team, restructured the way the company looked at development, built homes, partnered with rural leaders, fueled delivery trucks, provided countless families with food and hope, and so much more. Even amidst personal tragedies, such as losing her brother and friends to Covid-19, she continued to push forward when others were just hiding away in their homes.
Illustrations of her bold acts; In her office, Sisi Fix has assembled a team of Education specialists, Humanitarian leaders, and project officers, among others. I recall when she first conceived of this team and the effort she put into selecting its members. Consider the impact of such leadership and development for a moment.
From the service providers side – she allowed us to challenge her thinking and offered opportunities to both me as an individual and to CSR News as a team. Her boldness to take risks, her vision, and her dedication to the industry are truly admirable.
As we celebrate Freedom Day, I would like to honor Sisi Fix for pushing the boundaries of the freedom of development and fighting a good fight. Though we may disagree on certain matters, I am grateful for the opportunities she provided us, and I speak on behalf of CSR News and countless other teams when I say that we acknowledge and thank her for her tireless efforts. We are certain that even after her early retirement, she will continue to inspire and make a difference in the world.
And when she decides to resurface and get back to work as I suspect she will do – we are here to support her endeavours.