Meet Cindy Khumalo | Notable Achiever

5 minutes   |  BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

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In recognition of students who stand out from the crowd, GetSmarter’s Notable Achievers campaign highlights a top-performing student each week.

Cindy is currently studying the Universtiy of Cape Town Executive Support online short course and has been chosen for her inspiring persistence.

When chatting to her Success Manager, Natasha Hardy, she had the following to say about why Cindy deserves to be a Notable Achiever.

This student has come so far in the course. In Module 2, she wanted to cancel and was so overwhelmed with the course, she had not realized what she had got herself into. She told me early on that she is someone that starts something but never finishes it. Through coaching, she stayed on the course and she is performing so well.

Her mindset has completely changed and she is now excited to tackle the Module head on when it is released on a Wednesday – before, she would shy away from it and do it at the last minute. I have definitely noticed this in her grades also. I am so proud of Cindy  and her persistence to finally finish something she starts.

We caught up with Cindy to find out more about her experience, here’s what she had to say:

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Why did you decide to take the UCT online short course?

I have 4 years’ experience as an Executive PA and I finally decided to formalise my training and it was also to equip myself with skills that I had not yet obtained.

What were your concerns before enrolling on the UCT Executive Support course? How were your concerns alleviated and why?

I was extremely nervous as I had not studied for some time and this was my first online course. My major worry was that I was not sure how I was going to juggle things – full-time job, a family and daily homework, which included weekly tests for my 6-year-old and my 11-year-old.

Where was I going to find the time for all this?

One morning I received an email that our results for our very first Online Activity Submission assignment had been submitted. I quickly logged in and boom! I was starting at 42%. Wow, my heart almost stopped beating. I was down and demotivated, I started beating myself up, “Cindy, you are not cut out for this” those were the words playing like music in my head.

I was negative, I felt dumb and was ready to quit. That very moment my phone rang and it was Natasha Hardy on the line, my success manager. After our first conversation with her, my mind was made up, “ I am not a quitter.” Natasha had been amazing.

She helped me a lot throughout the course and was there every step of the way, and as promised, we spoke on a weekly basis, she called to check up on me and to motivate me. I must say it was wonderful to speak to someone who wanted me to achieve my goal the same way I wanted to. In a nutshell, my Online Activity Submission assignments have moved from a 42%, to a 65% and to a 75%. Need I say more?

What aspects are you enjoying about learning online with GetSmarter?

It is amazing, I never anticipated that it would be like this. Claire Payne, the Head Tutor, is incredible. She is always there to answer all our questions, she is supportive and she always makes time to ensure that we are all on the same page. Regardless of all the questions that she gets bombarded with.  Believe me, we ask a lot of questions. Claire makes it a point that she answers everyone and with the number of questions she gets, one would expect a one-liner answer, but nope, she goes into detail with her response and also follows up to ensure that we understand all her responses. It is just amazing that she also responds to each and everyone’s comment on the group chat, she is amazing!

How do you plan to use the skills you learned on this course in your career?

I plan to use my skills as much as possible. I have learned so much from this course, and I have shared a few links with our Exco members especially; Module 5: Written communication and presentation skills, Module 8: Leadership and people management and Module 9: Staff training and development. Before this, I had a limited idea of what an Executive Assistant does, but now I am ready to spread my wings. A big thank you to Claire for being who she is and for all the notes she gives every time she marks the assignments.

What does it mean to you to earn a UCT certificate?

A great achievement. It means I have proved to myself that I am capable of doing anything I want if I put my mind to it. It makes it official that I am a qualified EA and most importantly it means a salary increase and a great bonus.

Will you be displaying your certificate?

Yes, most definitely I am going to display it in my office. Everyone must witness my achievement. UCT is a big name and I am going to show it off.

Our Student Success Team identified you as being an outstanding student. Why do you think  you are a Notable Achiever and what advice can you give to others looking to do this course?

I must say I am honored, I did not expect this. I think it’s because of my persistence, I did not give up, there were tough times but I held on. Natasha kept reminding why I was doing this, why I took the course and the answers to those questions kept me going. I started on a low and with the help of the team, I managed to move up.

To others who are looking to do this I would like to say this, if you are thinking about it, then it is definitely time to do it. Do not dismiss the feeling, take the first step and when you have done that always remember why you took that step. The team is amazing, you will never be alone or lost. And to those who have never studied online before, you will love this because everything is at the tip of your fingers.

There is so, so much more to learn from the course from administration to finances, to presentations, people management skills etc… It does not matter how long your experience is as an EA, this course will introduce you to interesting things you need to know which you thought belonged in other departments. With this qualification in your hands, the sky’s the limit.


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