I AM a former junior primary school teacher and co-founded
adult education company Media Works, having to juggle work and home life so as
not to let the ball drop in either instance.
I'm the mother of a daughter, aged 10, and a son, aged 13,
whom I love. It is a job I never want to retire from. I do feel a lot of guilt
being a working mom with a job that requires much time and commitment.
I sometimes come home shattered with no energy left, but
although I am tired I listen to the kids who want to share their day with me. I
insist that we eat dinner together every night at the table, no TV – I ask how
their day went, I try to be involved.
Although tricky at times, it is important to find the
correct balance between the time and energy you spend on work and on family
life, raising your children.
I attend as many school functions as possible and support
the children's interests as best I can. It is a bit lonely at these events.
Many of the moms attending don't work and they have their
own social network for non-working moms, so I struggle to find something in
common with them.
To effectively balance work and home life, planning is key
and of utmost importance.
I am highly organised, and I ensure that I have an
incredible support structure, both at work and at home. It is the only way I
get through the home and work week.
I map out a delivery plan for the next 14 days in advance. I
know what we are eating, what extramurals the children have happening and what
my entertainment plans are in advance.
Similarly, I know which clients I have to see, what reports
are due and what new business has to be sought after.
This of course does not mean that everything runs without a
hitch, and that curve balls aren't thrown. Managing the exception is however a
lot easier than trying to manage a circus.
There is no way I could just take each day as it comes, not
with so many responsibilities and so many people counting on me at home and at
Media Works started out of a basement 14 years ago and it
cost a lot of hard work and late nights to raise the capital needed.
I found it totally unacceptable that there were still
millions of adults in South Africa unable to read or write when there were
solutions readily at hand to remedy this, and that was the reason why Media
Works was born.
The company was built over a couple of years and has turned
into a successful organisation, employing 400 people and servicing 3 000
We have completed over 32 Sector Education and Training
Authority (Seta) contracts and have trained over 300 000 people. In the first
year of operation we achieved an annual turnover of R360 000, which has
increased to R55m in 2012.
Without literate people, we cannot develop the skills that
this country so sorely needs to promote our economy and make South Africa a
I am committed to gender empowerment within and outside the
company and have made it my mission to bring about this change.
It is, however, no easy task being a woman in a man’s world.
I have had experiences in the past attending meetings where the men would ask
questions, but not address me, simply because I am a woman.
I would answer their questions, which was directed at a male
member of my team, but they would continue to converse with him, regardless of
my presence or interaction.
I have also been in a situation where I have met with men
from East Africa for potential business and they refused to shake my hand
because I was a woman.
I did not let it get me down and rose above it, writing it
off to ignorance. Empowering women not only benefits the individuals but also
their families, the communities they live in and their work environments
I believe that being a woman is an advantage to being a CEO,
because of our natural multi-tasking abilities.
At the same time understanding and dealing with staff's
complex feelings, giving clients the attention they deserve and having a
personal life is all in a day's work, but it certainly is not easy.
I try and set a good example and expect nothing less from
employees as well as from my family and my children. I don't believe in
I think that education, hard work and determination are what
led to me receiving the Annual Top Women Award in November 2009.
The award is organised by Topco Media in association with
Top Women in Business and Government. It recognises women who can demonstrate
their commitment to gender empowerment, both within and outside the companies
that they started.
I have dedicated my life to promoting literacy in all our 11
official languages as well as in Braille and sign language, and I will continue
to assist in educating women to better their lives and those of others.
*Jackie Carroll is the managing director for Media Works. 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 email@example.com and you could get