Namane Magau headed to one of the most prestigious universities, Harvard in the US, to further her studies in the late '80s without knowing how she was going to employ her skills back in apartheid South Africa.
Her timing could not have been more perfect. She says that she was still studying in the US when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, sending her into a bout of excitement and hope about South Africa's prospects.
On April 27, 1994, South Africa marched into a new future with all citizens exercising their right to vote, opening up a whole new world of opportunities for previously marginalised communities.
As the country moves to celebrate the 18th Freedom day on Friday, Magau highlights how the youth and women have more opportunities in the new era.
"Through freedom we have been exposed to opportunities we never had before, we have received an improvement to our quality of life" she said. "Freedom Day reminds me of the commitment and contribution made by our leaders in the past and how through their sacrifice our lives became better."
Magau said South Africa's economic policy was favourable to business but it was also the duty of individuals to support and participate in development.
"We have enabling policies; we need the public and private sector to collaborate but we also need individuals to play a significant role in developing our economy. Business must enable job creation," said Magau.
"We live in great country. It is a challenge and an opportunity to play a meaningful role based on what the Mandelas, Sisulus and Tambos gave us" she said.
On her return from the US, Magau was involved in the development of RDP policy and later the formation of the University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal. Dr Magau is the chairperson of KPR Engineering, the chief executive director of her own company, B&D Solutions, and a member of the advisory board at the University of Cape Town Business School, but still makes time for youth development and mentorship programmes.
"I am inspired by young people, they are our hope and our future," said Magau. She said the freedom South Africans enjoy provided the youth opportunities to do great things.
The former International Women's Forum South Africa president said she was also impressed with the strides women were making in business in South Africa.
"I have the privilege to work with young women with great vision and commitment. It inspires me," Magau said. KPR Engineering which Magau chairs is directed by a woman, Rhulani Matshidza, which Magau says is a source of great pride.