CFO Suloshini Singh: Leaving a lasting impression beyond Mandela Day


Optimi CFO Suloshini Singh shares her commitment to giving back to society through education.

Mandela Day brings a surge of goodwill and volunteerism as people come together to alleviate hunger, poverty, and various other challenges faced by communities. Yet, often, the enthusiasm wanes as the day passes, and the impact fades away.

Optimi CFO Suloshini Singh is determined to break this pattern, and takes a multifaceted approach to giving back, emphasising education as a transformative force for change, creating lasting impressions through sustainable giving.

Education as a foundation for sustainable giving

As a finance leader, Suloshini understands the power of education in empowering individuals and communities. Optimi provides accessible learning solutions and recognises that long-term solutions are rooted in education.

For one school they organised party packs for children, to create a sense of excitement for Mandela Day, but went one step further and made sure that their impact lasted well beyond immediate aid. They donated CAMI, an online learning solution for mathematics, literacy, and science, as well as a training course for teachers called Teaching for Brain-Based Learning.

“By investing in the teachers’ professional development and offering free licences, the impact extends far beyond a single day,” says Suloshini.

A personal journey to giving back

Suloshini’s commitment to sustainable giving has a deeply personal aspect. She says, “Both of my parents were influential, and my dad particularly emphasised the importance of education and learning. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago during the Covid-19 pandemic, and I felt that I hadn’t properly honoured his memory. This always bothered me, so I decided to act in my personal capacity for Mandela Day.”

She realised that although someone had donated a container to be used as a library in a school, it lacked books. “As someone who has always been an avid reader, this struck a chord with me. Growing up, I had access to a public library. I could borrow books and immerse myself in reading. However, these children didn’t have such an opportunity.”

As a tribute to her dad, she took it upon herself to donate R10,000 worth of books and says, “When I spoke to the children, something struck me deeply. Many of them were familiar with Harry Potter because of the movies or word of mouth, but they hadn’t actually read the books. Maybe not all 1,400 or 1,300 of those children will pick up those books regularly, but the presence of the library will make a difference in their lives as students.”

Collaborative efforts for lasting impact

Suloshini believes that collaborative efforts can achieve more significant results. She says, “As a leader in my current position, I am striving to foster this sense of togetherness. I firmly believe that by working together, we can make a significant difference. It doesn’t have to be a solitary effort; we can achieve more when we collaborate with others. It’s all about making small but meaningful contributions.”

Optimi is a large organisation with a considerable number of employees. Many of them still work from home due to the nature of the business, which involves online schooling and homeschooling. “However, it was heartwarming to see that a significant number of people still came into the office to assist us,” says Suloshni. “This demonstrated a level of cohesion that I believe we can sustain moving forward.”

A trauma-informed approach to giving

Suloshini draws inspiration from a talk by Oprah Winfrey centred around trauma-informed education. This approach emphasises understanding individuals by asking, “What happened to you?” rather than “What’s wrong with you?” It holds particular relevance in a country like South Africa, where poverty levels are high, and empathy is crucial.

“Understanding the circumstances of those we aim to help is essential,” Suloshini explains. “Empathy and a trauma-informed approach can lead to more effective and sustainable giving.”

Mandela Day may be a catalyst for giving back, but its true essence lies in extending the impact long after the day is over.

“By embracing the spirit of sustainable giving, we can create a brighter future for generations to come,” says Suloshini.

Related articles

Three CFOs’ guide to managing boardroom expectations

Productivity SA CFO Okuhle Sidumane, Sappi Southern Africa CFO Pramy Moodley and BMI Coverland FD Tammy Narain explain how effective expectation management helps them ensure every engagement with their board is a success.

CFO Brad Wentzel has found a new SPARK

In May, Brad Wentzel became the new CFO of SPARK Schools, a network of private schools offering affordable, globally competitive education.