Episode 029: Overcoming Adversity with Dr Lulu Gwagwa
About Dr Lulu
Dr. Lulu Gwagwa is CEO of Lereko Investments, a black-owned investment firm in South Africa.
You can connect with Dr. Lulu at http://www.lulugwagwa.co.za.
Born in a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr. Lulu came from a large family that included 25 family members. Growing up, she wanted to be a doctor, but there was no math teacher in her village, which halted her future medical career.
She studied at University of Fort Hare, a historically important black university. Encouraged by a professor, Dr. Lulu completed her masters in urban planning at the University of Natal, a predominantly white higher education institution where she was one of a handful of black students.
She qualified as the first black town and regional planner – a remarkable achievement in apartheid South Africa. In the late 1980s, Dr. Lulu left for London for further graduate studies; she graduated from the London School of Economics with a masters in social policy & planning and the University College London with a PhD.
With the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, South Africa’s apartheid regime was no more. Dr. Lulu joined the government as a director in the national department of public works. For the next ten years, she worked in development, consulting, and research, notably for the World Bank.
In the early 2000s, Dr. Lulu parlayed her diverse professional experiences into business. She set up Lereko Investments with partners and quickly established herself as a power player in South Africa’s corporate world. She’s also a non-executive director at FirstRand, Massmart, and Sun International.
Dr. Lulu has built an extraordinary career. She’s achieved many firsts, academically and professionally. I was inspired by her story, which is a testament to her grit and spirit.
Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Dr Lulu Gwagwa.