#CareerFocus With Barbara McGorian, CEO, Tshemba Foundation

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1. Tell us about yourself?

I am a primary school teacher by profession but spent most of my working life in the print media industry. Although I always say that I have ink in my veins, I took early retirement in 2016 and was very fortunate to start working for the Tshemba Foundation soon after. I am married with two children, four grandchildren and two great nieces who all bring enormous joy to my life.

2. What work do you do?

I am the CEO of the Tshemba Foundation. The Foundation was founded in 2014 and our first volunteer came to us from the UK for 4 months in 2017. My job is to recruit volunteers, manage staff and grow the Foundation in innovative and creative ways to benefit the rural and underserved community of the northeastern part of South Africa.  

3. Has your work always been your passion? 

Most of my working life has been spent in the media industry, but even at that time, part of my portfolio was to manage and oversee support to various charities. While I have only been with the Tshemba Foundation and involved in medical volunteering for several years, my heart has always been with uplifting and upskilling communities. I have always found helping others to be extremely rewarding and to be able to do this daily satisfies a passion deep within me.

4. Being a woman in the industry – what does it take?

I started working when my eldest child was only 14 weeks old, so I have been a working mother and wife all my adult life. As most women will agree, it takes a lot of juggling when children are small but I believe they benefit from this environment because they grow up more independently and understand a good work ethic from a young age. I am very fortunate to have my daughter work with me at the Foundation and we support each other.

5. Most difficult challenge of your career?

Overall it would have been managing all the many aspects of life when I was younger. Now that my family has grown up, I would say the most difficult challenge has been keeping up with modern trends like social media, not being seen as ‘past my prime’ and making sure I am good enough to keep working well past retirement age.

6. What advice do you have for other women in your industry? 

As I spend most of my time with highly qualified professionals and women of a much younger generation, I would say I can learn from them rather than the other way around!

7. Plans for the future?

I am now dedicated to growing our unique Foundation into a world-class entity that provides incredible healthcare to the most vulnerable people in South Africa.

Short Bio:

Barbara McGorian is CEO of the Tshemba Foundation, which aims to improve access to health care for the low income rural population of the Mpumalanga/Limpopo region of South Africa. She qualified as a school teacher in the 1970’s. She taught for 15 years and then joined The Star newspaper as a Subscriptions Manager.

She later became the Education Manager at The Star creating educational content for newspapers and instilling a love of reading in young people. She became Marketing Manager for the newspaper, which also included overseeing the charities supported by The Star and sister newspapers. During her career, she spent a few years working as political campaign manager for a municipal candidate and also the then leader of the DA Tony Leon.

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