Charlene Lackay shares a life motto with TV journalist Heindrich Wyngaard: ‘Just be lekka with people’. Treat them as you’d like to be treated. As group CSI Manager at MOMENTUM METROPOLITAN Holdings, she has had many opportunities to practise this simple credo and make a real difference in the lives of others. She joined Momentum, a division of MOMENTUM METROPOLITAN Holdings, as Head of External Communications and CSI in 2013. Two years later, she accepted her current role in the company.
‘What I enjoy most about my current role is building solutions. The highlight of my career at MOMENTUM METROPOLITAN Holdings has been overseeing CSI strategy change, which took a lot of research, influencing and building solutions to create deeper impact, especially in our youths’ lives. Previously we had a huge portfolio which included sports development, education, disability and health. But ultimately, it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the impact we create in each beneficiary.
‘That is why we currently have only two main focus areas: Digital skills, and vocational training programmes. These include supporting the Life Choices Coding Academy to equip people for the digital economy. Our main aim is to enable the life aspirations of as many young people as possible, so that they can enter the job market or generate their own income.
‘Our focus areas align with our business objectives: Build our future clients, develop a skilled workforce, and nurture a healthy environment in which we can all operate.’
‘Internally there is a lot of influencing work necessary to change the perception of what CSI and volunteer work is. Many people think volunteering is hugging a baby or feeding the poor. They are unaware of the true impact they can have through things like volunteering their skills.
‘As an organisation we can provide our business acumen and use it to strengthen organisations. We have to encourage a mind shift that values different kinds of volunteerism. ‘Externally, of course, there are challenges. We often have to deal with things beyond our control. For example, rolling out a financial literacy programme at a school may be hampered by protest actions or strikes.’
Most impactful experiences
Charlene mentions a young man who stood out both in talent and in attitude at the time when MOMENTUM METROPOLITAN Holdings still funded sports development initiatives, providing bursaries for cricket players.
‘This boy came from challenging circumstances. We sponsored his schooling and he is now graduating from the Witwatersrand University. The programme helped him to broaden his horizons and he has now started his own NPO to support young people. We provided the tools, but that momentum to change his life came from him.
‘Internally our Lesedi Awards, a volunteer recognition event, helped change employees’ perceptions of how they are capable of influencing the world around them. We support employees with funding and resources so that they can become active citizens in society.’
Sponsorship of The Great Funders’ Conference 2019
MOMENTUM METROPOLITAN Holdings has chosen to support The Great Funders’ Conference 2019 because it draws attention to the diverse range of ways people can fulfil corporate social responsibility. As a company completely invested in and engaged with the future of South Africa, it seeks to have a positive impact and excel in the way it does so. Learning from others is a big part of this.
MOMENTUM METROPOLITAN is also looking forward to outlining their CSI objectives and their motivation for a more focused strategy.
Make somebody’s day better
Lackay’s passion for making people’s lives better spills into her everyday life.
‘My colleagues call me a tough softy, because I know how to be tough, but I also know how to be a good friend.’ She is a radio presenter for the Afrikaans radio channel RSG and relaxes with yoga. Like many people, she is a proponent of the powerful idea of practising a random acts of kindnesses.
‘Sow goodness, be attuned to the people around you, and when the opportunity arises, make somebody’s day better.’