Zodwa Mabuza

Country of origin: Swaziland

TFTA Coordinator, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa

I obtained my first degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Swaziland in 1995. International trade has always been a field of interest to me, so in 1999 I decided to do an MSc that had a strong international trade component. The Lancaster MSc in International Business offered just that. It had relevant up-to-date information on topics such as globalisation, mergers and acquisitions, investment flows, international finance, trade and development.

The group work on the programme prepared me really well to be a team player and taught me vital skills in negotiation which proved very valuable in my first job after graduation: dealing with trade negotiations for Swaziland’s Ministry of Economic Planning and Development.

My dissertation, which was on ‘The Determinants and Impact of Foreign Direct Investment in Swaziland’, was an eye-opener. I am now able to influence policy decisions related to investment incentives because I know what works and what doesn’t. I also learnt to deal with people from diverse cultural backgrounds.

What I learnt on the MSc also prepared me well for the position of Chief Executive Officer for the Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce, which I assumed in March 2006. We represent the interests of the vast majority of businesses in Swaziland in the area of trade and commerce, industrial relations and social policy as well as co-ordinating the business response to the challenge of HIV/AIDS. To survive in this position, one needs to be a good listener. Emotional intelligence comes in handy as one needs to be both tactical and tactful in dealing with some of the controversial and sensitive issues. Business people want to deal with somebody who can keep their trade secrets.

I have very fond memories of  my time at Lancaster, and hope at some point to be able to return to visit.

In her new post as TFTA Co-ordinator, Zodwa is coordinating the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations among COMESA, SADC and EAC Member/Partner states.