Queenstown Girls’ High School Old Girl, Aakanksha Malik-Nair, earned herself a spot in the Mail and Guardian 200 top young leaders of South Africa.
Malik-Nair, 35, who is a deputy director of tourism safety at the department of economic development and tourism in the Western Cape, said it was encouraging to be recognised as a young leader and trail blazer in South Africa. “It has made me more resolute to carry out my mission in life, which is to reduce inequality in all its forms.”
The ‘thought leader’ is responsible for developing and implementing provincial strategies in destination management around the Western Cape.
She started university at the age of 16 where she chose to study engineering, specialising in computer science. She then pursued her passion in academia and numbers and enrolled at the University of Cape Town where she obtained a bachelor’s degree specialising in statistics and mathematics. With an MBA and a background in asset management, Malik-Nair has worked for some of the leading financial companies in South Africa such as Old Mutual, JP Morgan and Sanlam.
“I am continuously inspired to push my intellectual abilities, I see myself as being a bright child who, from a young age, performed very well academically. I loved studying and performing well at school and I had a keen interest in numerical and logical thinking subjects. I participated widely at various activities throughout my school life.”
She said she was passionate about empowering minorities and giving voice to the voiceless on matters of women’s empowerment, inequality and injustice. “I grew up in a household where social justice and standing up for one’s rights was ingrained into my psyche. My father, Dr KPS Malik, worked as the chief dentist in the most rural parts of the Queenstown district. He was based at Hewu Hospital, Whittlesea, for 30 years until he retired last year, a choice that he made to help the poorest of the poor and the destitute as opposed to working in the more comfortable suburbs.”
Malik-Nair who had also won the Miss Teen Queen South Africa beauty pageant obtained various other awards and was selected as a future leader at the Sanlam Future Leaders symposium, among others.
“I spend considerable time and effort on personal development, fine-tuning my personal and professional leadership skills. I help businesses become resilient and achieve financial and economic success. I aspire to become a leader on a global stage, helping businesses and organisations grow globally,” she said