Silindile Gwala (23) is the name and petrol is the name of the game (I know how cliché that was but let’s go with it). Silindile, better known as Sli, was born at Ngwelezane Hospital and spent 18 years of her childhood in the city of gold (Johannesburg). It’s always important for me to know the kind of family someone comes from because it speaks volumes about they person they choose to become. Sli comes from a big family and was mostly raised by her maternal grandparents, her parents have always been present in her upbringing and she’d visit them every school holiday. Like most black parents, Sli has very strict parents and they have been that way. They were strict only because they wanted to protect her from the world, the world that they tried by all means to afford her. “Well off” is a bit of a stretch for Sli, but her parents afforded her a great education and she always had everything she needed. If you don’t have any childhood memories then just know you’ve had a terrible childhood. Sli shares with us some of her childhood memories and how she’s creating new ones:
- Tell me more about your favourite childhood memories?
Childhood memories…well I don’t remember much just that I was a playful child and I was always outside in the sun. And in my high school years, I would leave the house at 5am because I had to travel and I would come back at 6pm. Of course, I had extra classes or extramural activities but it was mostly just about basking in the sun and not doing much but rather playing.
- Does the person you are now remind you of who you wanted to be when you were younger?
I use to talk a lot and I still do hence I did Communications, anything that would allow me to talk and interact with people was it! I think that’s probably why I liked to be play, I loved being around and talking but I’m not your writer, gosh I would die if I had to write a book.
- What did you study in tertiary?
BA in Corporate Communications at Varsity College Durban North
- How did you break your way into the petrol business?
I really wasn’t trying to break my way into any industry, to be honest. I was happy with my job and I was moving at an okay pace. One day I was going through a local newspaper and I found the advert and I literally thought to myself “I can do that, why not?”
- Briefly tell me more about your day to day responsibilities?
- When we started, it wasn’t a 24hr garage, so I would be required to simply open up and lock.
- Cash up
- Do daily reports and capture the meter readings, dips etc
- Tell me more about petrol that we don’t know about besides the price hikes (the industry, the high and lows, how it works etc)
Surprisingly, the fuel industry doesn’t make money and I really can’t lie to you about that. You make your money through the convenience store. I believe that’s very important to share. Fuel is a great way to learn business and build a legacy but you’re not going to get wealthy from simply filling up peoples’ tanks, because remember fuel that is sold is fuel that has been bought and buying fuel is no joke.
- What does it mean to you to be young, black and female in such a male dominated space?
It means working extra hard and having a mindset of a male. Can you imagine how powerful one can be if they think like a man and a woman? Acquire characteristics and moral codes of each and become a boss. In business, there is honestly no time for feelings and you have to learn to put your personal feelings aside and focus on the work. My employees need me on 100% every day and because I work with people 24/7, customers and staff, you always have to be present on the job and you can’t be easily distracted. You have to be strong enough to issue warnings when it’s needed, because they make mistakes every single time.
- As a businesswoman, what keeps you going?
Money, coming up with new ideas so that I am able to generate more money in different other ways.
- What is your motto in your life?
Do what makes you happy.
TOP 3 ON 3
- What do you do for fun?
Spend time with the ones I love, catch up on series oh and going clubbing…. I’m sorry I can’t leave that one out.
- Tell me something I think I know about you that I probably don’t?
That I’m in love
- Your favourite word/motto/saying/phrase?
Yours in ✍🏾