IN HIGH School I received my SA Colours and was chosen to
represent South Africa at a Drum Majorette competition in London and Paris –
this is when the ‘travel bug’ bit and my love affair with flying started. From
that moment I knew I wanted to work in the travel and tourism industry.
Studying tourism after school provided the basis for my
first job at Comair, and 15 years down the line I am still with the company and
loving every minute.
Initially I started out in the call centre, but with a
can-do attitude I was always willing and eager to try new things, and to help
out where needed outside of my job description.
It was evident that I was ambitious and determined and so was soon
offered a role as a marketing assistant.
I loved the
excitement of marketing, so I pursued it further and enrolled as a part-time
student and completed my National Diploma at the Institute of Marketing
A word of warning – working and studying is not for sissies!
You have to be very organised and plan every second of your day. I found that if I put aside time for work,
family and studying (and stuck to it!) I could enjoy all three of them.
When it comes to studying, set yourself small reachable
goals – don’t try to tackle the entire course in one go. Break it up into ‘bite size chunks’ and give
yourself time off to enjoy some family time.
Although working and studying was not easy, it was
absolutely worth it as I found my ‘niche’ and marketing has become my
My work philosophy is try everything twice and take risks.
Someone once said to me that ‘the biggest risk is to not take a risk at all’.
Don’t be afraid to try new things in your career. Too often it is easier to
stay in your comfort zone and do things that you’re good at – but often if you
try new things and take a few risks, you might discover some hidden talents.
Being a woman in a traditionally male-orientated industry
was tough initially and I was also quite young when I first became a brand
manager on the British Airways Comair brand. However, now that I am older and a
bit wiser, I have learnt to use it to my advantage. I also think now that I can ‘walk the talk’,
it is easier for me to ‘play with the boys’.
I am very blessed to have a job that I absolutely love at
kulula. I look after a team of wonderful
people who make my job easy. There is
never a dull moment with them, and we all look after each other. I live by the saying ‘love what you do, and
do what you love’.
I can’t imagine anything worse than trying to drag yourself
to a job everyday that you are not 100% in love with. If you are not happy – change it!
The main focus of my job is to implement the kulula
marketing strategy and ‘put bums on seats’. As with most jobs in a highly
competitive industry there is bound to be an element of stress, but it is
important to put things into perspective and contextualise things. In most
cases, you don’t need to ‘flip out’ if you look at things from a fresh
I have two little boys (5 months old, and 3 years old), a
husband who is very supportive of me and my career, and a dog named Princess
Chelsea, so spending quality time with them is very important.
Juggling career and family can be tricky, but the key is to
be organised. My husband runs his own business, so between the two of us
planning is essential. Our friends laugh at us when we send each other meeting
requests for family engagements like birthday parties for the kids or play
dates, but it really helps us successfully juggle busy careers and family
time. It works for us!
Life is fast-paced and full-on so it is essential to
schedule ‘me time’. To relax I like to go for long walks with my dog, as I do
my best thinking with her. To keep fit I
have recently taken up Action Netball, which is a lot of fun. And I should
mention that I do love a good glass of Pinot Noir!
* Nadine Damen is the marketing manager at kulula.com. She is the
latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's Women’s Month campaign
celebrating women in business. Fin24 welcomes your participation in the
campaign. Send your views to firstname.lastname@example.org
and you could get published.
women's month columns:
The sky's the limit - Tsidi Luse, quality control manager at
Lafarge's Lichtenburg plant
the driving seat - Dawn Nathan-Jones, CEO, Europcar
your hands dirty - Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment
like a woman - Wahida Parker, director of Equillore
tips for working moms - Glynnis Jeffries, head: business development at
a force for change - Amelia Jones, CEO of Community Chest
be an ice queen - Nicole Fannin, financial consultant at deVere Group
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