How A Life Changing Surgery Inspired This Working Mother – Interview with Nonka

Nonka _ style_ working mother interview

Welcome to the second installment of our Working Mother Interview Series, if you missed the first one, you can find ithere.

I met Nonka three years ago when we landed up in the same syndicate group for our Post Grad Diploma in Management (with Gibs). By the way we knocked it out the park as we awarded best group (just saying!).

Nonka is a reserved yet smart woman. What struck me about Nonka is that she is absolutely stunning, but so humble. You would never guess her life story.

Nonka currently works in medical devices as a Neurosurgery and Maxillo Facial Products Consultant. A life changing surgery that took place later in her life it inspired her to want to give back to others.

Here is Nonka’s story. Oh, and in pink, that is me, as always chiming in.

Tell us about yourself, your family and what you do.

mother and daughter _ working mother interview

I am Nonkanyiso Mchunu, originally from KZN, Estcourt from the village called Sobabili in Ntabamhlophe. I currently live in East Rand, Fairleads in Benoni.

I have two brothers, six sisters, and one late sister. I’m the firstborn. My dad passed away when he was 45 years old. As a first born, I had to step in to assist my mum.

I have one, eight-year-old daughter name Imana  Zibusiso.

One of my sisters passed away in 2006 a month after I moved to Jhb. During my pregnancy, I dreamed of my sister asking me ‘what is the baby’s name’? I said her name is Zibusiso, I then woke up and wrote it down, when I checked the time it was 3 am. Zibusiso means Blessings.

Imana Zibusiso

Imana means ‘God provides.’ Thembeka Masukum, one of my best friends, named her Imana. I named her Zibusiso.

Imana is a very fun, loving and caring child. She is also very energetic. She is very health conscious just like me. I sometimes take her to the gym with me.

Reading is one of the activities we do thus I have discovered that she has a talent for creative short story writing (imaginary characters)

We can both model and dance. Sounds like an awesome mother daughter duo.

I work for a medical device company as a Neurosurgery and Maxillo Facial Product Consultant. I support surgeons, nurses and patients who use our products.

Tell us about your career journey and how you landed up where you are now?

Yooh it is a long story – my life testimony.  A moving life story.

I started my career in retail, focused on FMCG, Telecoms and Pharmaceutical.

When you Life’s Mission and Career Collide

When I was a baby I had an illness. I had a leaking mitral valve (important valve that ensures blood flow in the heart). Don’t worry guys, I googled it for us, and I added a link where you can read about a mitral valve is.

Unfortunately, my parents were not aware, although signs were there. When I was in standard eight (grade ten), one half of my body went numb, and I was taken to a traditional healer.

[bctt tweet=”When I was in grade ten, half of my body went numb and I was taken to a traditional healer” username=”cherralle_”]

I stayed there for two months without going to school and only came back to visit my family, I then decided I will not go back there any longer because I was missing school.

I continued my schooling until I finished matric and tertiary. My whole life I was tired and short of breathe and I never understood why.

Once I started working, I had medical aid to do all my health checks. I always felt that there was something wrong.

While working in the Pharmaceutical industry in 2009, I had a mitral valve replacement. This took place a few months after Imana’s birth. My surgery went very well, and my health life was never the same. I felt entirely new and refreshedI love this ‘ I felt new’.

I used to have chest pains, shortness of breath and tiredness without doing anything. The surgery changed my life.

The above long story, especially my surgery success, inspired me to look for opportunities in the medical industry.

I wanted to contribute to saving people’s lives. In 2011 I joined one of the multinational medical devices company. I can tell you now, that I love every moment of my job.

What is the one THING YOU LOVE Most about your job?

My contribution to saving people’s lives.

Share with us your top two tips that help you to manage your work life integration (balance) that would help other working moms?

Nonka fitness_working mother interview

  • I love exercising, and I make it a must do because it makes me feel energetic and refreshed. Therefore, I function better.
  • Time management: priorities your time. I have a to-do list daily (flagged in categories, e.g., urgent & important, important but not urgent).

[bctt tweet=”I love exercising – I make it a must do because it makes me feel energetic and refreshed. #workingmomtip” username=”cherralle”]

Looking back share with us to pieces of advice you would give yourself as a new mother?

  • Don’t worry too much; no one is perfect, it is going to be fine
  • Always remember that you and daddy are a team
  • It is OK to ask for help

Great tips for new moms and for the more experienced ones. Thank you.

What do you do to kick back? (relax?)

  • I take some time out, take a holiday (with my daughter and alone)
  • I try to pamper myself at least once a month (pedicure, manicure, facial, wax and sometimes body massage.
  • Some time out with friends and family (siblings)

Thank you Nonka for sharing your story! Such a great example of when one’s personal life story and work collide.  It is truly inspiring how you overcame your illness and embraced a healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to share your story or nominate a mom friend, let me know!

Further Reading:

I Started My Own Business To Create My Own Flexibility – Interview With Lushia

The Side Hustle – 6 Things You Need To Get Your Game On

Author: Cherralle

Mom, wife and career loving parent. This blog focus on career and work life topics for mothers.

3 thoughts on “How A Life Changing Surgery Inspired This Working Mother – Interview with Nonka”

  1. Thanks for sharing! I was moved by the story, not just because one of my daughters has a leaky heart too (scared me very much when we first found out) and I hope she can have a good life and be as strong as you, but also because as a working mom myself I could relate to the advice at the end.

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