Mentor vs Mentee: Sharon Naidoo and Pilka Lalloo


A Q&A with mentor Sharon Naidoo and mentee Pilka Lalloo about what they’ve learned from each other.

For CFO South Africa’s annual Women’s Dinner, which is hosted in partnership with CHRO and CIO South Africa, executive women from each community are encouraged to bring along their mentees to share in the learning and networking experience.

Read more: Over 300 executive women gather to share personal stories of summiting, success and self-worth

CFO South Africa caught up with the powerful duo of TransUnion Africa CFO Sharon Naidoo (mentor) and TransUnion financial planning and analysis advisor Pilka Lalloo (mentee) to find out what they have learned from each other.

Sharon, what have been the most important things you have tried to impart to your mentee, and why?

Be your own authentic self. Love who you are and equally forgive yourself on the days you don’t get it right. Life is an exciting adventure: embrace all the emotions, events, joys, challenges, tears, and happiness. Live with love and passion in all you do and be present for you, first.

As a woman, focus on your feminine energy and know that you have earned your seat at the table. Go for it with passion!

Pilka, what have been some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt from your mentor, and how have they been useful in your development and career?

Sharon has been a pivotal figure in my professional journey at TransUnion. Over the past year and a half, her guidance has left an indelible mark on my growth.

From the outset, I absorbed a crucial lesson from her about the power of incremental progress: “Rome was not built in a day”! I have come to understand the significance of fostering authentic relationships with stakeholders across the business, which has helped me become a dependable business partner.

Her unwavering support and inspiration have been a bedrock for our finance team, and her adeptness at balancing the broader perspective without losing sight of the finer details is a skill I strive to learn.

In addition, Sharon’s leadership qualities of empathy, trust and teamwork are qualities I hope to cultivate in myself.

Sharon, what have you learned from your mentee in the process? And how has it helped you as a leader?

I love my conversations with Pilka. We chat about everything: career goals, life, the challenges and opportunities she faces, what support she needs to grow, and even dating. We are human and we bring our whole selves to the office every day.

Finance is an incredibly deadline-driven, high-performance environment. It is imperative as leaders that we have open, honest conversations with our people and that we’re present in our engagements with them to make sure their needs are met.

The younger generation keeps us relevant and I acknowledge, appreciate and truly enjoy the brainstorming that unfolds.

Pilka, what do you think the current generation of business leaders could learn from those who are coming up?

While their experience and wisdom are invaluable, there are areas where the leaders of today could benefit from the perspectives of the upcoming generation.

The new generation is keen to integrate technology into financial processes. Embracing these tools can enhance efficiency, accuracy and lead to better decision-making.

I also believe that senior leaders can adopt a more accessible leadership style, like Sharon’s, which would encourage open dialogue and collaboration across all levels in the organisation – something that is truly valued!

Flexibility in the workplace is an important factor in current times, and fostering that culture can yield increased levels of productivity.

If leaders can get these things right, they can create a more forward-looking finance function that strives for excellence and drives innovation.

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