Every month, the EWP Clt community selects a Young Professional to be recognized for their success and achievements. For August 2018, Farai Gwata was chosen as the Young Professional of the Month. We asked him interview-style to tell us a bit more about his secrets to success to learn about his journey.
Farai Gwata was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the Dominican Republic and Zambia before moving to the US to pursue a bachelors in Finance & Economics at Lander University. He also obtained his MBA from Clemson University in 2007. His professional career began at Eaton Corporation where he held a number of roles in international customer service, strategic pricing, and sales. In 2016 he began working for GM Financial as a Compliance Reporting Manager. He started his current role at Wells Fargo as VP, Business Initiatives Consultant this year.
1. What were your struggles early on?
Early on in my career, I devoted all of my efforts to doing a great job at work, but did not know how to network or that I even needed to.
2. If you could change anything, would you? Why?
I’m having a hard time with this one because one thing I try to do in the present is make the most of every opportunity so that in the future I don’t look back and wonder “what if?”
3. When did you start to feel confident in your ability?
As I’ve progressed in my career I’ve learned more about who I am. I think it’s important for someone to have self awareness of one’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. Once I started to have a clear sense of who I am, I began to feel confident in my ability because I could put myself in positions to excel in activities that utilize my strengths. For example, I took a Gallup Assessment and one of my top 5 strengths is strategic thinking. With that knowledge, I am confident when raising my hand for strategic projects at work.
4. If you could, what would you tell your past-self?
If the more experienced part of me could speak to the Farai starting out his career, I’d tell him to build as many professional relationships as possible, in all situations.
5. What keeps you going? What inspires you?
I like figuring things out. I like connecting people. I like the big picture but I’m just as comfortable getting into the details. I’m inspired by showing people the big picture, whether it’s at work or in spirited debates with friends. What keeps me going is the ability to do all or at least some of these things in my daily job and my community involvement.
6. What was your daily routine like before?
My daily routine used to consist of going to work and then going home afterwards.
7. What does your daily routine look like now?
At least once a week it consists of meeting someone for coffee before work or during the day. The work day is filled with meetings and performing the tasks at hand. I’m very intentional about always making sure I’m meeting new people in both my industry and outside my industry at professional networking events to form relationships. I currently serve on the Charlotte City Club Board of Governors and the Charlotte Clemson Club. I will be leading the Charlotte Clemson Club’s philanthropic efforts in 2018-19. I’m an avid runner and enjoy photography so my day always ends with me running or perfecting my artistic side.
8. Define success. What’s it look like to you?
To me success is not only succeeding in my career but also helping others succeed. I’m always willing to meet people for coffee or lunch and share the little experiences that I’ve acquired thus far in my career because others have been willing to do the same for me. I like to connect people and Charlotte has given me a great opportunity to do so through all of the organizations I have been able to be a part of.
9. What’s the secret to success?
What’s helped me in my career is showing up to work everyday and aiming to exceed expectations at everything I do. My parents equipped me with some life lessons I’ve always held onto. My mother always said, “If you’re going to do something, do it very well.” My father would always remind me “to make the most of every opportunity in life because sometimes they only come once.” That’s how I try to approach everything I do, whether I’m at work or serving on a board.
Fun Fact about Farai
He’s fluent in 3 languages: English, Spanish, and Shona (from native Zimbabwe).
“I recently had the honor of being the MC (my first time) for a couple who are great friends of mine. It was a bilingual wedding reception (English and Spanish) which turned out to be one of the greatest honors and most rewarding things I’ve ever done as I was able to keep the audience engaged and entertained in both languages.”