Jimmy Mkhabela, partner at leading law firm Webber Wentzel, always knew that he wanted to go on secondment – an opportunity to gain international experience and exposure – he just wasn't sure how it would come about.
His dream was further fueled when a colleague at the firm who had been placed on secondment told him if there was one thing he needed to do, that was it. When the opportunity arose for him to apply, Mkhabela didn't think twice, even though he was in the running for a promotion back at the Johannesburg headquarters. While living his secondment dream at Linklaters London, Mkhabela got the added bonus of being made partner at Webber Wentzel.
Working on M&A deals in London was not much of a transition from what he presently does at Webber Wentzel, but Mkhabela says the size of the team he worked with was impressive.
One of the key learnings from his time in London, says Mkhabela, was the importance of building long lasting relationships. “If you open yourself up to people, they will receive you. And before I knew it, I was already making friends and those friends became my support structure in the office. I found that it’s quite important, that every space that you find yourself in, you actually try to extend yourself to people and build relations, because that may come handy at a later point in time where you least expect it.”
Mkhabela has also been inspired to work on more cross-border deals spanning several jurisdictions, like he got to do with Linklaters. With the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement looming large, Mkhabela intends to put his new skills and expertise gleaned, to full use.
“Running across different time zones, for me, was the biggest highlight. So I think that has shaped me, in a way, towards what I’ve always wanted to be – a well-rounded lawyer,” he commented.
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