Zenadene Lazarus is on a roll. BSc Construction Management Honours, cum laude (Wits) – tick: dream overseas trip to Ireland and England on part time job savings – tick; graduate position in Finance, Corporate and Investment Banking, Standard Bank – tick! She is on top of the world – and so are we, as we celebrate our tenth anniversary of the Ruth First Jeppe Memorial Trust.
Zenadene was one of the first four Ruthies who started at Jeppe in 2011. The quiet, retiring pupil from Dunvegan Primary blossomed at high school where she was encouraged to ‘just be myself’ and to ‘try my best’. High academic standards, class dances, extra murals, helping those less fortunate, the Ruth First mentorship programme: all of these are mentioned as Zenadene ponders the learnings she took from her five years at Jeppe Girls. Teamwork, resilience, hard work, self-awareness, and the primary importance of effective communication are her take-aways which have brought her to where she is now: participating in Standard Bank’s Future Movers Summit 2020 as one of their 120 graduate trainees for 2020.
Reflecting on the grueling process whereby Standard Bank whittled down the 14 000 applicants to those who received a placement, Zenadene is refreshingly honest about what differentiates her. “Definitely not my degree” – although this does set her apart from the rest of the group, which is dominated by finance and engineering graduates. She self describes as a friendly enthusiastic team player, a hard worker, with the self-belief to be herself, without apology. And her colleagues seem to endorse this: she was voted best team player on the Summit – and can’t wait to get into her role in the bank. She hustled to introduce herself to Standard Bank CEO, Sim Tshabalala at one of the networking events, and has taken his words to heart: “Work extremely hard, don’t be average. You have been given an incredible opportunity – make the most of it”.
We are extremely proud of Zenadene and the way she has built on her Jeppe Girls education to achieve these successes. But even more gratifying to us, is her commitment and dedication to the mentorship programme – she is now in her fifth year as a mentor, and her commitment to giving back. In her culture, the first paycheck is traditionally turned over to the parents to say thank you. Zenadene’s parents have returned it to her, and she will donate it to community projects. This is what makes our hearts sing!