Shoni Khangala was born in Soweto in a township called Chiawelo. Under the policies of the Apartheid government, Chiawelo was meant to be a ‘home’ for the Venda and the Tsonga speaking people only (He is Venda speaking). Translated in English, the name Chiawelo means ‘a place of rest’.
The government’s intentions for Chiawelo never materialized, as all tribal groups were to be found there. As a Venda speaking person in Chiawelo, Shoni found himself living side by side with tribal groups other than the Tsonga speaking people. He thus grew up in an environment which allowed him to learn a number of other South African languages. Today he can even count sign language among the languages he is conversant in. In 2000 he achieved Beginners and Advanced Certificates in Sign Language.
In 1975 when rolling strikes and unrests began, Shoni’s grandmother promptly instructed his mother to relocate to Venda together with all her children. That’s how they ‘escaped’ the turmoil of the 1976 Soweto uprisings. It was indeed an ‘escape’ because a few days after they left for Venda the security forces came to his grandmothers’ house in Phiri (Soweto) where the children used to spend most of their time, searching for ‘anything that was a boy’.
In all of his schooling from Sub A (Grade 1) until Standard 8 (Grade 10) Shoni was always the top pupil (number 1) in his class. It was only when he went to Standard 9 (Grade 11) at Mbilwi Secondary School when he started attaining positions other than number 1. At Mbilwi he had met other pupils who had also been number 1 in their former schools; before coming to Mbilwi to complete their Grade 11 and 12. Despite being one of the rural schools, Mbilwi has always been one of the top schools in South Africa, producing among the highest pass rates and results in Maths and Science.
Shoni came to Cape Town in 1987 to study at UCT, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Archaeology in 1989. By the time he finished his degree he had already decided that he would not like to work as an Archaeologist. Before he completed his undergraduate degree he started attending classes on Saturdays, studying towards a Diploma in Business Management through Executive Education, which he completed almost the same time he graduated for his Bsc in 1989. Following his Business Management Diploma, he completed a Diploma in Personnel Management. With these qualifications, he felt he had laid a foundation to get a job in a commercial environment.
His first job was at Woolworths Head Office as a Trainee Merchandiser (November 1989 – January 1991).
His next job was at Wesbank as New Business Development Officer (May 1991 – June 1992).
In July 1992 he joined an established Entrepreneur in the recruitment consulting business, to form a close corporation called New Africa Appointments. The company specialized in Affirmative Action placements, and made a number of managerial and specialized appointments mostly within the Cape Town area.
In July 1994 he was recruited by the Chairman of INTEC College to head up the new Corporate Training Division which was established to grow the company’s corporate market.
He left INTEC College in May 1996 to work as part of a Project Team appointed by South African National Parks to establish what is now known as the Table Mountain National Park (which includes the whole Cape Peninsula Mountain Chain from Signal Hill, Table Mountain right down to Cape Point). His position was Manager: Marketing and Communication.
In 2000 he joined Robben Island Museum (RIM) as Manager of the Tours Department. He served in this role until 2006, when he moved to the Marketing Department as Head of the Department until September 2013.
In his 13 years and 5 months at the Robben Island Museum he played various roles apart from the above two positions. These included acting as CEO on a few occasions, as well as acting COO as part of interim leadership in 2010. Between 2008 and 2012 he also played roles of Chairperson of the Provident Fund and of the Procurement Committee.
QUALIFICATIONS: Bachelor of Science (Archaeology) – University of Cape Town (1987 – 1989)
Diploma in Business Management (Executive Education) 1989
Diploma in Personnel Management (Executive Education) 1990
Master of Science in Tourism Development and Management – Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College (now known as Buckinghamshire New University) 2001 – Graduated as Top Student in the UK
Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing – Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) 2002 – Top Student
Master of Science in Marketing – Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh Business School) 2010
Professional designation – Chartered Marketer South Africa CM (SA)
Certified Inner Life Skills (ILS) Life and Business Master Coach – Inner Life Skills Coaching International
Licensed and Qualified ILS Master Trainer – Inner Life Skills Coaching International
Shoni also completed courses in Human Resource Development; Organizational Behaviour; Learning Facilitation; Career Management at Post Graduate Level (Rand Afrikaans University).
In 2005 Shoni formed and declared Potential Exponents Consulting cc whilst still full time employed. After just over 13 years working at Robben Island Museum, a global iconic site, Shoni moved on to focus closely on Potential Exponents, in order to transform it into a viable company, with a more visible impact in its areas of operation. This mission has now been accomplished! The company has refined its focus and is now empowering others – under the leadership of Shoni Khangala, its Founder and CEO.