Head in the clouds

Aug 15 2012 07:37
*Nadine Damen

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 Management.

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 passion. 

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 angle. 

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!

 - Fin24

* 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 editor@fin24.com and you could get published.

Previous women's month columns:

The sky's the limit - Tsidi Luse, quality control manager at Lafarge's Lichtenburg plant

In the driving seat - Dawn Nathan-Jones, CEO, Europcar

Get your hands dirty - Sandra Burmeister, CEO of the Landelahni Recruitment Group

Manage like a woman - Wahida Parker, director of Equillore

Four tips for working moms - Glynnis Jeffries, head: business development at Futuregrowth

Women a force for change - Amelia Jones, CEO of Community Chest

Don't be an ice queen - Nicole Fannin, financial consultant at deVere Group


* Follow Fin24 on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

kulula  |  workplace  |  women


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