Port Elizabeth was privileged to be the first city to host the three national winners of the 2015 Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa’s (BWASA) Businesswoman of the Year Awards (BWOYA) at a lunch in the city on Friday, 16 October 2015.
These phenomenal women, all with Eastern Cape ties, shared their journeys to success with women at the PE Golf Club – The Hill. This was the first leg of their countrywide roadshow.
Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane (Corporate category)
Nosipho is the first female CEO of Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), an operation that is 100% dependent on rail logistics and port marine services. Nosipho was also the first woman Port Manager in SA for the Port of East London, GM for the ports of PE and East London and the first female Chief Operations Officer for ports nationally, before joining RBCT. Being a lifelong student, she currently studies at Rhodes University and studied at four global universities before. She has a B.Com in Accounting and an MBA in Sustainability. In 2014 she was awarded the Institute of People Management CEO of the Year award.
My best career decision: “I declined a job offer to do my articles. This decision led my career to where it is today – joining the port industry and the lessons that came with it. It covered among others the mechanics of the economy and the infrastructure development projects that I’ve been involved in.”
My Leadership lesson: “Take the opportunities that come your way, be your best and don’t bang the door behind you – let other women in. Have an open-door policy, allow people in your space, let them tap into your knowledge and expertise and don’t rank them.”
Lee Den Hond (Entrepreneur category)
Owner of Blue Platinum Events, Lee is a businesswoman, inspirational speaker, athlete and optimist who believes that nothing is impossible. She founded her events company 16 years ago and has grown it to specialise in the creative architecture of large-scale corporate events – from conceptualisation to delivery and execution. Lee has drawn huge inspiration for her business life from her lifelong focus on sport. She has completed four Ironman endurance races and climbed Mount Everest.
“Climbing Mount Everest was my most difficult, but also most rewarding experience. Being the only women among 26 men I tackled this two month journey which included extreme levels of exhaustion in temperatures as low as -50°C. The trigger that got me through was my belief that having a purpose is greater than a personal challenge.”
“My biggest lesson learned is that your greatest stumbling block or failure can be your biggest opportunity. Sixteen years ago I was at a low point with only R390 on my name. I realised that if you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. Today I can say that the turnover of my business has grown from R390 to R330 million. Being a business owner has afforded me the time to do what I love and to inspire others to overcome challenges.”
My best career decision: “Taking a risk to start a business instead of working in a business. Jumping at the exciting opportunity to start a company, when I had only experienced working in the corporate environment.”
Leadership lesson: “Realise the power of positive reinforcement. I believe that no one does it on their own. As a leader in business, it is imperative to keep the momentum of empowerment and inspiration constantly going. If each leader could influence and inspire people, a phenomenal cycle of growth and success would be created.”
Tembela Kulu (Government category)
Being the Gauteng Provincial Manager at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Tembela has diverse work experience. She has been a public affairs manager at the Cape Town branch of Metrorail, the spokesperson for the then Minister of Pubic Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, GM for Corporate Communications at the Land Bank and a Major General in the South African Police Service (SAPS), in charge of national key points. She is currently pioneering the formation of Ekurhuleni’s Women Enterprise Forum to champion the cause of women in the rail business. Kulu is a social science graduate from the University of Cape Town. She holds an Honours degree in Business Administration from the University of Stellenbosch. She is currently studying towards an MBA with Regent University.
My best career decision: “Going to the University of Cape Town has helped me to make sure my career would prosper. Joining the SAPS has been one of the most exciting things I’ve done. My journey with PRASA has also been important. I think my best decision is to be part of influential organisations that are changing the world.”
Leadership lesson: “You’ve got to persevere in whatever you do. You’ll fall, but you have to stand up, dust yourself off and keep moving forward.”
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