Updated: Jun 19, 2018
It's no secret that the legal profession is one of those that's increasingly over-subscribed to. I've had my fair share of people discouraging me from pursuing it. But if there was ever an example of someone proving the naysayers wrong, it's Chiedza Museredza. At only twenty-six, she's already spoken at the UN, worked on headlining cases, attended some of the world's most prestigious universities and has shown no signs of slowing down. Read on to find out just how she does it.
Name: Chiedza Museredza
Based in: Toronto, Canada
Education: University of Cape Town (B. Soc. Sci, LLB), Osgoode Hall Law School (LLM)
At only twenty-six, Chiedza Museredza has built a strong and promising career for herself. After leaving Arundel School in Harare, she completed a combined degree in International Relations and Law at the University of Cape Town where she also took part in a study abroad program at the University of Oxford facilitated by CBL International. She came back to Zimbabwe immediately after graduating and joined Kantor & Immerman as a trainee lawyer before moving to Canada to pursue an LLM in International Business at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. She’s currently based in Toronto working as a consultant at TD Bank, a multinational banking and financial services corporation. Read on for an exciting insight into how she managed to get to where she is.
1. My first question is a little loaded; when did you decide you wanted to study law and why did you choose to study it in conjunction with the humanities as opposed to something else, say commerce?
I always tell the story about how I studied law by chance. When I went to university I wanted to study International Relations and Economics. I was not accepted into the Economics class because I did not do A-level Mathematics. I had to consider another major and a friend of mine suggested Law, something I’d never considered growing up. I took on the challenge and graduated with my Law degree in 2014. Commerce was not an option for me because at the time I went to university I wanted to pursue a career in International Relations. Looking back, if I knew that I would enjoy business as much as I do now, I would have taken the Commerce route.
2. The thought of entering the professional world after having spent years studying can be daunting. What advice would you give other young women who are reaching the end of their degrees and feeling a little nervous about the next step?
From my experience, I was scared of making mistakes and this made me nervous. I have learnt that you will make mistakes; it is a part of the learning experience. Instead of worrying about making mistakes, be wary of not learning from them because at the end of the day they happen to make you better in your profession.
3. There still exists a misconception that the path to success lies in spending as much time as possible in the library, intentionally leaving little room for interests outside your area of study. You have made time to take part in a diverse range of extracurricular activities and causes, including serving as project manager for UCT Investment Society’s Young Women Professionals Subcommittee and mentoring at a Devs Without Borders Hackathon. In what way have these experiences helped you grow personally and professionally?
These experiences have taught me valuable soft skills that have helped me in my career. These include leadership skills, emotional intelligence, time management, networking and being organized. They have also allowed me to acquire knowledge that is outside my area of study such as coding, investing and entrepreneurship. I believe that this is important for a well-rounded individual.
4. The legal profession is one that finds itself increasingly over-subscribed to. What have you done to differentiate yourself from your peers?
I try to acquire skills and experiences that are in line with practice areas that are bringing in the most clients and that I am passionate about. For example, start-ups are becoming increasingly popular clients for most firms. I volunteer with organizations that work with them and this way I get to understand the clients’ needs. I am personally passionate about startups because they are empowering most young people who own these businesses. They are a source of employment and also increase government revenue. Passion is important. When you focus on what you are passionate about, I believe you will succeed no matter how competitive the market is.
5. What does a day in the life of Chiedza Museredza look like?
· I wake up around 6:30am, read the news and something motivational then get ready for work
· I work from 9am to 5pm – sometimes I work late, it depends on the day
· I am currently studying for bar exams, so I study between 6:30pm and 10:30pm
· 10:30pm – my favourite part of the day, I go to bed
6. Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
I see myself as a successful lawyer and businesswoman who has also ventured into projects aimed to empower women (especially women of colour) in the workplace and the marketplace.
7. What have been your biggest career challenges and accomplishments so far?
· I spoke at the UN at the largest international tax conference in the world
· I assisted on a case that made headlines in Canada.
8. There are those who strongly believe that it is becoming increasingly impossible for international students to find work abroad once they have completed their studies yet you seem to have built a solid foundation working overseas. What practical advice would you give to those who aspire to do the same?
· Be self-aware - by that, I mean have an idea of what you want in life and your career. This is an important starting point. If you cannot figure it out, jot down the various areas of interest that get you excited and explore these. If you are dead set on what you want, that is great, but it’s also important to be open minded. We live in a world of endless opportunities and we shouldn’t limit ourselves because we are so set in our ways.
· Work hard - This is important because it is proof that you produce results.
· Network, network, network! - Your network determines how far you get. Look for people who have made it to where you want to be and learn the ropes from them (LinkedIn is your career’s best friend). In this process however, it is important to realize that people’s journeys will be different from yours and that the point is not to copy and paste but rather to reflect on how their journey can help yours.
· Don’t stop learning - we live in a world that is constantly changing and thanks to technology we are being replaced by robots etc. The only way to stay relevant is to continue learning. I would highly recommend a TED Talk by Carl Newport on this issue.
9. Finally, what would you do differently if you had the chance to start all over again?
Prioritise my social life. I worked too hard in Law School and I think I missed out on having a social life. I have learnt that I need to prioritise this so I can refresh my mind – which is necessary for me to perform well in my career.
Want to get in touch?
Connect with Chiedza on LinkedIn