Tuesday, 24 July 2012

More top SA businesswomen - including a bestselling author - share their strategies for success

Margie Orford

Role: Writer, author of the Clare Hart thriller series
Age: 46
Sector: Publishing
Definition of success: ‘
Making a (good) living from doing something that I love. That said, success is born from ambition, education, hard work, focus and luck.’
Greatest achievement: ‘Believing in myself enough to give my dream a chance of becoming a reality. That dream was to be a full-time writer, and behind the dream was a business plan. It’s only possible to live off writing if one’s books sell into international markets; my books have been translated into 10 languages and counting.’
Best strategy: ‘Investing in myself. I earned a substantial chunk of royalties for some text books I wrote years ago – enough to keep me and my family going for six months. Instead of doing the sensible thing and buying a new car or paying off the bond, I “bought” myself enough time to write the first of my Clare Hart thrillers, Like Clockwork. It paid off.’ Margie’s latest novel is Daddy’s Girl, published by Jonathan Ball.

Advice to SA women: ‘Dream big, plan in detail. Work harder than you ever imagined possible. And once you do achieve what you set out to achieve, enjoy it. Then dream bigger, work harder, do more.

Pam Golding
Role: Founder and chairperson of Pam Golding Property Group.
Sector: Property
Definition of success: ‘When I look back over the past 35 years, success has been enthusiastically doing what I’m passionate about – selling property, networking, and meeting interesting people.’ 
Greatest achievements: ‘Building up a large organisation from what began as a hobby.’ Today, Pam Golding Properties is the biggest independent property services company in Southern Africa, and has over 2,500 real estate professionals globally.
Best strategies: Pursuing her natural talent for matching buyer and seller; surrounding herself with people who share her ethos; following her instincts (‘for example, opening a London office in 1986, when South Africa’s international image was at its worst’); and being optimistic: ‘I began the company when South Africa was going through a recession, and people said I was crazy to go on my own, but I was determined to succeed.’
Advice to SA women: ‘Remain totally committed to your career path but retain balance in your personal and business life. Remain approachable and show empathy for others. Accept all challenges and never give up. Go for the gap, and keep scanning the horizon for new opportunities. If are focused, dedicated and ambitious, you will succeed!’

Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo
Role: Founder, shareholder and general manager of The Soweto Hotel on
Freedom Square
Age: 44
Sector: Hospitality and tourism
Definition of success: ‘Creating a commercial opportunity that you are passionate about, that provides jobs and skills for our people, and that delivers world-class service consistently.’
Greatest achievement: To have built and opened the first four-star hotel in Soweto. It’s also the first black-owned, female-managed hotel on a national heritage site (The Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication) and acts as a training ground for local youth pursuing careers in hospitality.
Best strategies: Using local suppliers; providing an entrepreneur development platform; and focusing on local and domestic markets, ‘as these are the markets you turn to during global economic recessions, especially in the tourism industry.’
Advice to SA women: ‘Be inclusive and make sure your management team shares your vision. Have a support base outside of your business and keep in touch with like-minded women who are older and wiser than you or have experience you can learn from. Stay humble and deal with integrity. Also, you must be knowledgeable about the field you choose so that your business is taken seriously.’  

Nicci Scott
Role: Founder and managing director of Siyaduma Auto Ferriers.
Age: 37
Sector: Transport
Definition of success: ‘Very simply, reaching that which you have set out to achieve.’ 
Greatest achievement: Within three years of starting her business, Nicci supplied 80% of the car rental companies in four cities. Despite ‘some very daunting times’, she now employs 200-plus staff, ferries over 2000 commercial and passenger vehicles across South Africa monthly, and recently opened a training academy to empower women in the transport sector. Nicci won three business awards in 2010, including Top Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
Best strategy: Customer service. ‘Engage with a client, establish his needs, expectations and deliverables, and make sure that’s your business focus, not profit alone. You’ll set yourself apart from the competition.’ 
Advice to SA women: ‘Set your goals and take small, consistent steps to get there. Do what you enjoy, and you’ll never begrudge the time and effort required to build a business. I went through a stage of feeling very guilty for not being involved in my children’s lives like other moms are, but I don’t judge myself any more. Although children need their parents’ time and attention, they also need happy, stable, loving parents who feel fulfilled and successful within themselves.’ 

Tracy Foulkes 
Role: Founder of NoMU
Age: 40
Sector: Food
Definition of success: ‘Whenever Paul (my gorgeous husband and business partner) and I try to agree on when we think we’ll have achieved enough business-wise, we always seem to come back for more.’
Greatest achievements: Having two healthy, happy sons,
winning the SIAL
Grand Prix for Excellence and Innovation in Packaging and Design for NoMU Vanilla Paste in 2006, and being awarded the Businesswoman of the Year prize (Western Cape) 2010. ‘Most importantly, Paul and I agree that finding each other and successfully running a business together are definitely achievements!’  
Best strategies: ‘Sticking to our guns in terms of quality and standards in a very price-competitive market. Our consumers are prepared to pay a slight premium as they know they’re getting the best available product.’ NoMU’s innovative range, available in over 30 countries, includes beautifully packaged rubs, grinders, sugar-free hot chocolate, fonds (liquid stock concentrate) and more, for both retail and catering. ‘Growing deliberately and quickly into exports was a crucial component. Also, my monthly recipe mailers to nearly 20,000 subscribers get me back into the kitchen.’ 
Advice to SA women: ‘Produce something you can be passionate about. Believe in yourself and your abilities – a powerful, bold woman with a clear idea of what she believes is almost impossible to say no to!’

These profiles originally appeared in Foschini Club.

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