Boipelo Ndlovu: The Candidate attorney who quit her job to travel the world
Boipelo had the dream job in the dream firm. At least, the dream job for many who slave through the hectic years of books, remembering what cases to cite where and learning analytical thinking until she discovered that her passion was much more than the cosy life she had achieved.
We sat her down to ask a few questions about this change and she lets us in on how she learnt to silence societal expectations and how she hopes to achieve her goals moving forward.
- Please introduce yourself making mention of your full names, childhood, background, interests, hobbies, education etc.
My name is Boipelo Ndlovu. Amongst many attributes to my makeup, I am God fearing, light hearted, fun, quirky, compassionate, and self-aware. I advocate for positive solutions and change in the educational space. I support individuals and organisations that strive to deepen democracy in South Africa and aim to contribute towards a more united Africa. I am passionate about entrepreneurship and fostering creativity and innovation within the youth. I encourage people to follow their passions and to live purpose driven lives.
My interests consist of running, cycling, teaching English and yoga, reading as well as photography.
I grew up in Madikwe, a small community in the North-West province of South Africa. I was fortunate to attend schools in both rural and urban areas of South Africa. I went to Bonolo Primary School, Boshoek Laerskool (rural area), Boskop Laerskool, Bryanston High School as well as University of Western Cape (urban areas). I moved around and attended different schools as a result of my family’s endless sacrifices and efforts to afford me a better education. It was through my unequal educational experiences and observing South Africa’s binary education system that I started seeing myself as somebody who could contribute to conversations on bettering the South African education system. As a result, I have plans to make an impact through, with collaboration, building charter schools in rural South Africa. Education was and still is the key that unlocked/unlocks the different doors that allowed/allow me to exercise my potential and take on different opportunities. As someone who has had many people contribute to my upbringing and career path, I understand the meaning of Ubuntu. Consequently, I want to give back and do the same for others that will come behind me.
- You have a law degree. Was this always your chosen career path?
Law was never my chosen career path. I enjoyed studying it in university; and in practice but I was actually inspired by my parents, one being an Attorney and another an Advocate, to study it. Initially, I wanted to become a stock broker and had heard of people going into it straight after high school. This would have been my chosen career path at the time had my parents not been wise enough to advise me against that.
3. Why law?
My parents work in the legal profession and I had always been inspired by the conversations we had in our household, about the law. Once I started thinking about law as a career path in consideration of my background and my community, I became interested in learning about human rights and the possibility of contributing towards educating South African communities thereto and about circumstances under which their rights may be limited. From observing my parents, I also knew that law would contribute towards me being a critical thinker, analytical, being able to be logical in my reasoning, being able to make sound judgements as well as being able to pay attention to details.
Little did I know that I would not only be able to contribute in the abovementioned manner and gain the abovementioned skills but that I would gain much more. Today, I am an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa, which is an honorable achievement, especially at the age of 24. This speaks volumes in my community because not everyone has the privilege of achieving their goals or dreams due to poor educational systems and barriers to opportunities. I am able to inspire the youth to keep dreaming and to work towards excelling as and when opportunities do come up. It makes it easier for people to believe that they can also do it when you look like them and come from the same place.
Furthermore, I have been working as a Candidate Attorney in the past two years at one of Africa’s leading law firms. I rotated in the Litigation team, the Mergers and Acquisitions team as well as the Banking and Finance team. I walked away with skills that will allow me to make well informed decisions in respect of my business pursuits, which most business people do not have the advantage of knowing. I have also networked throughout the two years and have met like-minded people and gained friends and mentors from the profession.
Law may not have been my chosen career path but I believe in things being afforded or not afforded to you for a reason and I can see why I went through the past six years. I am definitely grateful to have gained more than just a degree in Law.
- Tell me a little about your journey from qualifying as a candidate attorney at one of the top law firms in South Africa and quitting your job? Why did you quit?
Doing articles of clerkship at any leading corporate law firm is generally challenging. Two years, which is the term one usually has to serve articles of clerkship, can also feel like a long time if you are only practicing Law but actually have other interests. I loved learning about corporate law but the reality is that there were other factors that made me walk away from practice. Amongst these were that I wanted to start my own business, which I have done since leaving corporate practice; volunteer more; get involved in teaching (yoga and English); and be able to travel.
The goal for me is to be the best version of myself. I am creative and appreciate spaces that foster innovation, movement, ideas, free-speech and being a value-add in debates about transformation in South Africa. I wanted to own my time and use it how I wished. Unfortunately, a life of being in the office surrounded by four walls and billing long hours felt mundane to me. I wanted meaning, passion and to express my own creative ideas in different forms. So, after completing my two years of articles of clerkship, I made a decision to finally engage in my other interests.
- What has your journey been like since then?
My journey has been purpose and passion driven. I made a promise to myself to only do things from which I derive joy. I can learn from and to be in spaces that recognise and appreciate the value I contribute. My journey has not been without any challenges. A huge part of this walk has been and still is about self-development and realising that that also deserves the same respect as any corporate career, if not more. I have spent time in India and Thailand in the past two months, which contributed towards me learning more about myself, how strong and resilient I am and how to truly be independent in my thinking. I have learnt to stop living up to social expectations, to silence negative opinions, to let go of the notion of fear and to dare greatly without hesitation. I am still unpacking so many lessons from my journey. I am just grateful to be growing as a person.
6. What are you looking to accomplish now?
I just want to live a life filled with joy. It sounds really simple and fluffy but it’s what I want. I have come to realise that human beings really struggle with this. We go to school to work long hours, sometimes while not enjoying our jobs, only to miss out on time with loved ones, maybe save money and go on vacation once a year, twice if lucky. We work a few more years then retire and die. That is how we have been conditioned to live life. We purchase material things hoping they will make us happy, only to realise that the happiness is temporary. What I intend to accomplish is a life that consists of me being my true authentic self, spending time with people that matter to me, doing work that makes me feel alive and contributing positively to humanity.
- Do you still intend to follow a chosen career path? If so, what would this be?
I do not have a specific career path I would like to follow within a specific industry. I am learning that it is okay to appreciate the different interests that I have and skills thereto. I am currently an admitted attorney, a yoga instructor, an ESL instructor, an entrepreneur and a photographer. I am inspired daily to try out new things and to generally do what I want to do. I plan to do an MBA to further my business skills, meet like-minded people and expand my social capital. My hope and current efforts are geared towards being able to work at the intersection of social entrepreneurship, education and community development in a managerial capacity, while embracing my other interests and skills.
- What life lessons have you learnt from your big decision?
- I am worthy. Not because of any accolades or because anyone told me I am but because I know that I am enough.
- I have learnt that I can do anything I put my mind to. It sounds cliché but it’s the truth. I remember telling my family and friends that I would be teaching English and Yoga in Asia this year but at the time (late 2016), I didn’t have any qualifications to do that. Nothing really spoke for me at that stage. Five months later, I am a certified yoga instructor, having qualified in India and I am about to embark on an ESL teacher journey in China.
- Fear is the limitation that you build up in your head.
- Listen to your intuition. I call this the voice of God.
- I have learnt to dare greatly. I constantly challenge myself to go after the things that scare me. It turns out that once you study something, understand what you need to do to achieve it and equip yourself accordingly before going for it, you have a higher chance of actually achieving it. As a result, I have let go of fear with the understanding that all that is ever required of me is preparation for the opportunity and faith.
- “Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences”. – Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly. 9. Do you have any regrets? What are they?
I have no regrets. I think everything happens for a reason, mostly for your benefit. You get to understand it in that moment if you choose to but otherwise, later. I have always sought to see the colour in the different shades of grey and as a result I try to connect things that happen in my life or decisions that I make to a good consequence or outcome that is going to come about. I may not always foresee it but I have had many things I initially regretted turn out for the better. As a result, I never swim in regret. I just have faith that things will be what they are meant to be and that I will end up where I am supposed to end up.
10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
If anybody had told me that I would be doing what I am doing and living the life that I am living today five years ago, I would have said that they were bluffing. I now tell people about the person I plan to be in the next five years. I see myself being the same joyful, fun, quirky, light hearted, compassionate and self-aware woman who wants to contribute towards excellence in rural communities and engage in conversations and projects about deepening democracy in South Africa through innovative solutions. I see myself walking within my values: being humble, honest, respectful, exercising gratitude to God daily, being family orientated, being loving, caring and compassionate to people and always striving for excellence and a positive impact in whatever I do.