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Fin24 user Marilize van Niekerk writes:
AFTER reading an article posted on your web page, I decided to send you some of my views.
I started my career in the early 1980s at a law firm as a clerk.
Being young and very inexperienced, I tolerated a lot of “abuse” like walking for five blocks with a pile of files, knowing that the lawyer was on his way to exactly the same destination, but it was far beneath him to give the clerk a lift.
I knew then that there must be more to life than being at the bottom of the food chain. So my journey began.
I was not one of the fortunate ones that went to university. I have no MBA degree but I started a few courses here and there and improved myself by pushing harder each day.
Being a single mother with a very young little boy made it even harder to commit and complete tasks at work and get assignments done on time, but still I persisted and pushed on.
Later in life I married a wonderful guy and moved to a small town, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here I really found my feet and started running full steam ahead for my new found goal.
I started off in a company that gave me some opportunities (as a woman) to further and better my career. I grabbed each and every opportunity that came my way, pushing harder and harder to succeed.
It took me four years to reach management level and another four to get to the international level in sales and marketing. This is where I wanted to be.
I loved dealing with the international market and travelling worldwide to get our product out there. I was at the top of my personal wave.
But like the your article said, it’s a man's world and quickly found myself in the shoes of many a businesswoman - working for the new guy that only sees the fact that you are a pretty face.
The shorter the dress and lower the top the further you could push the limits. Well, that was not my style and I knew that I was worth more than the person he wanted his ladies to be. I made the jump - a huge quantum leap to start my own business.
After 11 years of working in a safe environment, guaranteed your salary and your bonus, I left and started my own business.
I picked a field that I have great interest in: construction. Well, moving away from selling leather for car manufacturers to the construction field was quite a jump.
I started my business of seamless gutters and jumped into the deep end. Here in a very male-dominated world, I had to contend with the "know it all's" and the "who do you think you are" men of our society.
I've sat in boardrooms negotiating deals, when some guy would ask a question that I have just explained. It was extremely exhausting to verify each fact and decipher each request to the last full stop.
I have often found it beneficial to have a male present in these meetings that could be my face. Men often feel the need to dominate women and find the fact that women can also be as successful if not more than so men in their field hard ro swallow.
This drove me even harder to succeed.
I have joined the world's best networking group, BNI, where I now fill the position of assistant director for KZN2. This exposed me to some of the best contacts any person could dream of.
These are the kind of businesspeople that want to see your business grow. I am now, by the grace of God and with the support of my amazing husband, the proud owner of a very successful guttering business.
So you see, it's not where we come from or what we've done in the past, it's about the vision of our future.
Where do I want to be? What do I want to achieve? You don't have to be a man or a MBA graduate to make your dreams come true, you just have to believe in yourself.
Set the goals high and work hard to get there.
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