Head of Finance Information Services Aetna Inc.,
In their three-room shack in Chesterville township of Durban, South Africa, Sibongile Magubane and her extended family had no electricity or indoor bathroom.
Material possessions were few, but Magubane’s paternal grandparents ensured that she and her three sisters received an education.
Learning was so important that, despite long hours as a housekeeper, Magubane’s grandmother escorted the extremely shy child to and from school every day.
“There was always this idea that you could better your life through learning,” says Magubane. “I’m constantly challenging myself to learn more.”
Her love for learning was further nurtured when she moved to the United States at the age of 9 to join her father, who was studying at the University of California and who became a professor at the University of Connecticut.
She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Connecticut and accumulated credits toward an MBA at the University of Hartford.
Over the past 30 years, she has built a career as an information technology specialist; and today, as the head of finance information services at Aetna Inc., she keeps abreast of cutting-edge technology
to support the company’s finance operational, accounting and reporting systems.
Magubane loves to share her passion for learning with the next generation and de-votes time to working with high-school students.
If money and time permitted, she says, she would be a full-time personal coach to young women. “It’s exciting to see young people blossom and start to achieve their goals,” she says.
Her proudest accomplishment is raising her son, Thulani LeGrier, now 25 and an Aetna employee. It was a feat made possible with the support of her mother, who took over Thulani’s care when Magubane was at school or working.
Magubane now stresses the importance of a balanced life.
“Career and monetary success are important, but it’s not the end all be all,” she says. “It’s having a really full life. It’s important to define success holistically.”