8 months ago when Pip announced that she was resigning from enke, I, like many, were surprised, a bit in shock wondering how anyone else could lead enke, but also excited that Pip felt that the organisation was at a stage that could be passed on to other hands. It was also an amazing opportunity to lead an organisation that I have grown to love so much. I applied to be CEO almost at a whim – knowing that there was no way that I could fill the shoes of this incredible woman whose tenacity and will has built enke to be a globally recognised organisation. It was really a dream job for me – one of those you apply for because you just can’t pass it up, but that you don’t really expect to get. As I advanced through the selection process, that dream had a bit more substance, but it was still a dream. And then, in December, I found out that I had come a close second – I was disappointed, but so proud of myself for getting so far and for persevering through. Although the dream hadn’t been realized, it didn’t seem so far-fetched any more, and the process of applying I had learned a lot about myself and what I could do so that I could get there in the future. The dream was deferred.
In January, it was time to welcome a new person to the team which we all did with open arms and great expectations. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The person turned out not to be the right fit with our values. It was hard on all of us as a team and the last month has been quite a roller-coaster of emotion, but also of intense focus on our work and rallying together as a team. Because, in the end, it is the work that we do and the people we work with at enke that makes everything better.
On Sunday 29 March I got a call from Leigh Meinert, our Chairperson, letting me know that the board of directors named me the new CEO of enke: Make Your Mark. My dream of leading enke as its CEO had become a reality.
When I first walked into the doors of enke: Make Your Mark, it was supposed to be a temporary learning experience. The goal was to get exposure to the South African context and youth development practice in southern Africa so that I could start my own initiative in Zimbabwe. I wasn’t expecting to find something that would align so closely with my vision, the issues I was passionate about and what I felt I could achieve both professionally and personally. But, with enke, that’s exactly what happened. With enke, I found that the organisation’s mission, vision and programs were aligned to what I had hoped to establish, realising that I could achieve my hopes for an effective regional youth development organisation with enke.
In the three years I have been working at enke: Make Your Mark, I have worked in multiple aspects of the organisation. I started as a Communications Intern, revising the communications strategy to align with the South African context, building policies and processes to streamline our messaging, and building enke’s media profile. From my internship, I went on to become Programs Manager, building systems and processes into our programs to be more efficient and effective in our work. One of my greatest honours has been to be enke’s first Chief Programs Officer. This was a challenging and rewarding role, for which I had to to draw on all my educational, professional and personal experiences. I’ve loved being in the background tweaking and refining the Programs, focusing on how we deliver them and making sure we did our best that everyone who participates gets the maximum benefit.
In my time at enke, one thing that has stood out, is the people – the diverse, bold, amazing individuals that make up the enke family. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been there every step of the way, giving guidance and support (often unknowingly so), because there is no way I would have had the confidence to apply for this role without you. Honk! Honk!
So, other than my experience at enke, what do I bring to the table? I have over ten years of work experience built across the private, social enterprise and non-profit sectors in Zimbabwe, Canada and South Africa. I’ve worked in university administration, student organization, and nonprofit and social enterprise. I’m a proud graduate of York University (Canada), holding an honours degree in International Development Studies and Communication Studies as well as a Certificate in Non-Profit Management. I’m also a proud alumna of the GIBS Social Entrepreneurship Programme.
My vision for enke is ambitious – to be a financially sustainable organisation, to consolidate our impact, to grow our reach (beyond South Africa), and to be a leader in the field of youth empowerment. I believe we can do it. I’ve seen us do it, and go from strength to strength. I’ve been part of the journey. Now, I look forward to leading enke to its next phase – the details of which cannot be contained in a single blog. I’d prefer to share it over a cup of coffee.
I would never have imagined that this could have happened. But it has. And I’m grateful and feel incredibly blessed to have the board and the team believing in me to lead enke. My dream deferred has become a reality. I’m excited to get to know you as enke’s CEO and also to get started making my vision for enke and our impact a reality.
– Rufaro Mudimu