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MIRANDA ZULU – HE KNOWS ME BY MY NAME: Director Woman November

This November, Director Woman got to know Personal Finance YouTuber and Content Creator (among many other amazing things) Miranda Fezeka Zulu. In conversation with our Editor, Miranda shares with us her personal, mindset and career evolution and how she is able to lead an inclusive financial fitness conversation for different audiences in very different places in their journey managing money.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Masekane Nkwana

ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SERVED. There is no value in not letting people help you when you need it. Now it’s already hard for me (and Miranda) because we know talk is cheap – actually asking or allowing yourself help? Tough to do when you’ve been gangster since you stepped into adulthood. I’m glad we’re learning though. This is the penultimate D.Woman Edition, also easily one of my favourite interviews. MZ is such a precious woman. Thanks my lady. Best, Mase.

Nov ’22


The bounce in Miranda’s voice gives her personality away gracefully, she is an extrovert. “I’ve always been bubbly, even as a child. In school I made friends easily and I was friendly with my teachers. I always stood out in a way, in every class, my teachers always knew who I was,” she says.

Her earliest memory of any career or job aspiration goes back to her final years of primary school. “When I was in Grade 6 or 7 I actually wanted to be a YOTV presenter. I used to watch all the way back presenters like Musa, Selae, Carly, Sade, Cece; I would watch the show, go stand in front of the mirror and act like I was a presenter. I’ve always loved being in the media space even though I didn’t know what exactly that was then.”

As she progressed through high school, Miranda maintained her academic excellence. “I was academically strong, I got scholarships to go to really good schools, unfortunately though I sucked at sports so naturally I stuck to Maths Olympiads and festivals that didn’t require sport talent because I don’t have any,” she laughs.

“I was laid back and chilled in my general approach, but I was always challenging myself and putting myself out there. When it came to choosing subjects, I was still set on doing something in media, that was kind of my passion and dream. I remember having a conversation with my mom and she said it (media) came naturally to me, I can speak to people and I was someone who could do presenting. I wanted to study script writing and film directing at AFDA. She reminded me I was also very good at other things like Accounting and Maths, and that media was something I could always do on the side or afterwards. So I took Accounting, Business Studies and also did Drama. I actually took 4 elective subjects instead of 3, I took my last one, Business Studies in my matric year. I never wanted to limit myself, I am multifaceted, I’m creative but I’m also academic.”

MAKING DIFFICULT BUT GOOD CHOICES: Realising the CA(SA) route wasn’t for her and ultimately quitting corporate

Miranda studied Accounting and was headed in the CA(SA) route before making the life-changing decision to leave the discipline altogether. “I was not overly passionate about Accounting but I enjoyed it. I loved numbers so it made sense. While I was studying, I was getting opportunities to do the media stuff I enjoyed. I presented for a local TV show in Durban, it played on the free Dstv banquet channels and had a very small audience but I appreciated the opportunity. I also did some Voice Over work, a couple of radio adverts.”

Once the then fresh graduate and Honours student started doing her articles, she realised she would have to give up a lot to become a Chartered Accountant and that made her unhappy. “I thought there’s no way I could go through with it. To top it off, I had always studied full time and worked part time, now it was the reverse and it was overwhelming. So I dropped out of my Honours. After a year and a half of articles I realised the CA(SA) route is not for me. Afterwards I got an opportunity to work in fashion retail, something completely new to me. I did that for around 4 to 5 years until I left my job in March this year.”

GETTING STARTED WITH FINANCIAL FITNESS: Navigating finances as a fresh out of varsity working individual is a whole different ball game

After getting her first job in 2016, Miranda quickly realised managing her finances was an entirely different dynamic compared to varsity. “I had more financial responsibilities and access to nice-to-haves – banks were throwing credit cards at me and now I could open clothing accounts. For a while I though ah, this is how it goes. It was only in early 2019 that I started sharing my experiences. I started my YouTube channel in March 2019, but almost the whole of 2018 was me stopping and being intentional. I knew I could do better, being frustrated financially wasn’t how I was meant to live. I have an Accounting degree but it taught me how to handle and help businesses, not myself,” she shares.

To help educate herself, Miranda conducted some research. “I found a lot of American-based personal finance bloggers; and a lot of them were women of colour, I found that inspiring. But when I looked at SA, there were a few people here and there but no one was speaking to me, a fresh graduate with a humble pay. I was figuring things out for myself but I thought let me just share my journey; and so I started talking about money.”

CREATING INCLUSIVE CONTENT AROUND MONEY: My responsibility is to be as sensitive as possible when I relay information

From the onset, and even as she transitioned from student to employed and now a freelancer, Miranda was careful not to become tone deaf with her content. “I made a lot of financial mistakes as a student and learnt a lot about personal finance when I got my first job. Now with me leaving my job, it’s like I’ve gone back to Miranda the fresh graduate – I’m realising OMG, I don’t have that much disposable income anymore. I’m now having the same conversations I was having with myself back then, but my knowledge is different now.” Having experienced different stages in her financial fitness journey, she doesn’t want to be insensitive to someone who is indebted and struggling or earning the R350 grant for instance. “My role is to give you that basic information regardless of how your finances look so that when you are able to, you can implement some of it. We’re always thinking about money – if you don’t have it you’re thinking of ways to make it; and when you make more, you’re thinking of how to make even more or make up for losing some of that money. I can’t exclude you from the conversation because you lack, but you shouldn’t either. Our financial fitness journey is affected by our mindset. We have to want to know more, even if we don’t make money now,” she says.

Miranda’s honesty in her content is a breath of fresh air, and she intends to keep to her brand values of transparency and honesty. “It doesn’t help for me to pretend to have it all or only loop my subscribers and followers in when I already achieved something great. I want to drive a work-in-progress narrative. I want to share the process without the filter of success. I may share my wins here and there, but I want those who consume my content to see my actually win and not just see the win.”

WHAT CORPORATE WAS LIKE FOR ME: When you get to corporate, being the only black person in a room feels & looks different

“When I started my first retail job in 2017, I remember looking around the room and realising I was the only black person in my department, in a room full of white and Indian people. And you’d think we’re used to it because you know, we went to multi-racial schools. But when it gets to corporate, it just feels and looks a bit different. There is an obvious big difference in socio-economic standing. Our experiences and knowledge are very different; we have very different conversations. For example, me and black co-workers would joke around and be excited in anticipation of pay day, but we never heard or saw our white counterparts get excited over getting paid. I’d wonder if maybe we were earning less because how are they not feeling the struggles we’re feeling?

Personal bias also plays a big role when it comes to how people treat people of different races. You could manage a team of different but as a white male for instance, they way you talk to and treat men on the team will likely differ from the way you treat women, women of colour, etc. 

When we were due for raises, our boss would call us one by one and he’d tell you your new pay, chat about the year that was and explain why you’re getting that percentage. I had come in in the middle of the year, so I wasn’t going to get the full percentage increase. Somewhere in the conversation he made a joke that my raise was enough to buy me a pair of shoes. And he was right, it was enough to get me shoes at Mr Price or Legit, it was nothing. In my head I was like WHAT? How can you say that, are you having this conversation with everyone else? I started asking my co-workers from different departments if their managers had ever made comments like that before. Everyone was gobsmacked, they couldn’t believe something like that was said to my face.

It’s how when you make a mistake, it’s a big deal but when it’s someone else, it’s hushed down and they’re told not to worry about it. And that’s it, those subtle differences and biases that you slowly pick up on and start recognising. It’s [muted subliminals] in conversations, in emails, in meetings. You notice those things, you see them and you hear these things but what do you say?

My most recent experience was also the final straw for me. The other dark truth about corporate is that many companies want to take advantage of employees and don’t allocate enough staff for the amount of work required. I was literally working from Monday to Saturday, sometimes even Sunday. I’d wake up at 5a.m to be at work by at least 7a.m, despite work only starting at 8a.m. I needed the extra time. Some nights I’d leave work as late as 9p.m, get home, eat and sleep to be up at 5a.m again. I was stuck in the rat race. The crazy thing is everyone was complaining too, yet management was just blind to what was humanly possible because we were overworking ourselves to produce results. And we’d achieve those goals but at what cost? These are the things that make corporate toxic and difficult,” she recounts.

HOW TO APPROACH THE SALARY INCREASE TALK: It is important for you to hold those who are responsible for your growth accountable

Asking for a raise or demanding a higher one than what’s on the table can be daunting and seem borderline impossible, but Miranda advises young people in corporate to be bold and take a factual approach. “It’s always best to go into those conversations with facts. I’ve learnt that feelings and perspective can get in the way sometimes and you might lose out on getting not just what you want but what you deserve, so you need to lead with facts. If for instance your manager keeps saying ‘I feel like you didn’t do this right or achieve this’, you need to change the conversation and be fact orientated – set KPIs that you both can agree on and come up with suitable rewards to go along with those goals. So you’ll know if you hit a certain KPI, you’ll earn x percentage raise. Most importantly, put it in writing, because anything can happen, your manager might leave or change their tune. Another key point is for you not to wait until the year is over to talk to your manager about your progress, ask for or find windows to do regular catch ups, even if it’s just 10 minutes. It is important for you to hold those who are responsible for your growth accountable, that’s why you must put it in writing and keep checking in. And if anything changes, don’t be afraid to go higher up with your documented proof,” she emphasises.

MIRANDA ON PURPOSE: My purpose is something I’m choosing and I love how that looks

“This season of my life is making me face what I thought my purpose was and what it actually is. I’m rereading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It didn’t mean much to me when I read it in varsity with my cell group but now it’s different. The other day I watched a lady in her 40s share what she would she tell her 30 year-old self. She said she would say there is no such thing as purpose. That one big answer to the question mark in your life that fulfills you and makes you feel happy, it doesn’t exist. I heard her and I related to it. She said purpose is something we choose, we choose it in a season in our lives, we focus on it and we do it and I was like what? We’re constantly evolving and changing, purpose goes along with constant rediscovery. If you try to find that one big answer to life, you might miss out on life in that season.

My purpose is something I’m choosing and I love how that looks. My purpose has always been to serve people no matter what I’m doing. I’m always serving, win a conversation, in a YouTube video or just listening to a friend share something. It’s hard for me but I’m also learning that as a server, I need to allow myself to be served too. God’s word for me this year is surrender. That surrender can be to God but also to those around me by allowing them to help me when I need help. I’m a freelancer now and God is providing and I’ve surrendered to Him. It’s still a challenge for me to be vulnerable and ask for help from people sometimes; I want to be soft, but I also want to be gangster. That I Quit My Job YouTube video was hard for me to film and share but it was honest, it’s one of my absolute faves because I stripped myself down and opened up. And that alone has proven to me that maybe vulnerability is good.”

What would the title of your autobiography be?

He Knows Me By My Name. I believe it encapsulates and explains my relationship with God and my journey so far. There has always been a hand of God at work in everything that has happened to me, whether it is good or bad. Approximately 21 bible verse mention God knowing us before we existed, and caring for us. Every one of these bible verses has applied to me at some point.”

About Author

Director Woman is a pan African women's career and business lifestyle digital magazine that celebrates, educates and empowers tomorrow's women, today & showcases that girls of colour are just as smart, capable and powerful.