Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Top businesswomen share their strategies for success

These South African businesswomen are following their vision and making it big. (If they could do it, so could you.)


Jenna Clifford

Role: Founder and designer of Jenna Clifford Designs
Age: 51
Sector: Jewellery
Definition of success: ‘
To achieve your hopes and dreams while remaining true to yourself, maintaining your integrity and prioritising your family.’
Greatest achievements: Jenna set up her business in 1992, after the end of her second marriage left her in financial difficulties. By initially working 16-hour days, she’s created a glittering brand and four luxurious jewellery boutiques. Jenna initiated the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, and four years ago launched Dream Big with Ryk Neethling, which supports children’s charities. Through inspiring encounters with such icons as Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu, she’s been able to ‘share their influence and bring about change in South Africa, especially on a gender equality platform.’ That aside, ‘I consider raising my three daughters one of my greatest achievements.’
Best strategies: ‘Hard work works! Business success also requires vision and belief.’
Advice to SA women: ‘Have passion and determination. Don’t get married too young. Be your own person. Read, read, read. Find a mentor, even if you never get to meet them. Make your own money: that way you can be loved and respected for you. Invariably, what you put in to this world is what you get out.’

Nkhensani Nkosi
Role: Nkhensani Nkosi, founder and designer of Stoned Cherrie
Age: 38
Sector: Clothing
Definition of success: ‘Having the freedom to do what you love and knowing that you are fulfilling your life purpose in the process.’
Greatest achievements: Nkhensani has co-owned a TV production company, travelled the world as an actress, and hosted M-Net’s Face of Africa. But in 2000 she launched Stoned Cherrie, the Afro-chic fashion brand that has graced New York Fashion Week and won her a L’Oreal/Fairlady Catherine Award for Lifetime Achievement. To Nkhensani, achievement means ‘building a beautiful family and home with my husband, and giving birth to my kids and my business.’
Best strategy: Adaptability: ‘having the ability to adapt oneself and business to changing circumstances. With all the economic changes over the last decade, I’ve learnt that the best strategies are those that allow for change.’ For example, Stoned Cherrie can be found on selected Woolworths rails, and her specially designed clutch bags have featured in a Clinique makeup promotion.
Advice to SA women: ‘Be open to every experience as it’s there to teach you a lesson. See each challenge as an opportunity to do things differently, learn something, or gain a new appreciation or perspective.’

Ipeleng Mkhari
Role: Co-founder and chief operations officer of Motseng Investment Holdings group.
Age: 36
Sectors: Investment, property, industrial.
Definition of success: ‘For me, it’s about the ability to live a life that I’m content with.’
Greatest achievement: ‘Having built a very strong, proudly South African company, literally from nothing. The business is growing beautifully and employs over 200 people. It’s very humbling to be able to have an impact on people’s lives. I get up with a sense of purpose every day.’
Best strategies: Diversification: this ensures survival when one market – property, for example – crashes. Ipeleng started a CCTV company in 1998, then teamed up with two business partners to create Motseng Investment Holdings. Originally a small start-up providing ‘soft services’ such as security and cleaning, Motseng has become a major name in property development, property management, facilities management and industrial investments, launching a new business every two to three years.
Advice to SA women: ‘As a woman, don’t play the victim; play the victor. Like any man struggling to start a business, you’ll have to work extremely hard, make sacrifices, plan, and be patient. To be a great mom, wife and businessperson, you might have to work 10% harder, but such is life!’

Ashantha Armogam

Role: Shareholder and managing director of Grid Worldwide Branding and Design
Age: 39
Sector: Media
Definition of success: ‘For me, it’s about staying true to your values, setting goals, thinking deeply about the implications of your actions, and looking at the legacy you leave.’
Greatest achievements: ‘Being authentic and open to new ideas. A lot of our work is based on disrupting categories and raising the bar by creating powerful brands, cultural hotspots, and improving the visual aesthetic through carefully considered design.’ Grid has twice been named Financial Mail AdFocus Branding & Design Agency of the Year, and has bagged three Loerie Grand Prix medals in five years (most recently for Comair’s SLOW airport lounges), while Ashantha was named top businesswoman in the 2011 Metropolitan Oliver Empowerment Awards.
Best strategy: Persistence! ‘You have to “give it horns”, even when the odds are stacked against you.’ When Ashantha joined design specialist Nathan Reddy as partner and MD in 2005, she aimed to establish a footprint for Grid, then a subsidiary of TBWA, locally and overseas. Ashantha and Nathan bought out TBWA’s 51% shareholding and launched the new Grid, which handles South African Tourism, Exclusive Books, Converse, Virgin Mobile and other major brands.
Advice to SA women: ‘Women have the opportunity to bring humanity, emotional intelligence, diplomacy, strength and unconventional thinking to the boardroom table.’ If you fail, ‘accept that you are human and don’t beat yourself up.’

These profiles originally appeared in Foschini Club.

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