“I am a woman / Phenomenally / Phenomenal woman / That’s me.” – Maya Angelou

To commemorate Women’s Month and celebrate gender equality, we asked a few of our leading ladies at Expert to share some of their stories and experiences which have shaped their career paths.

Rochelle Womens Day Posts

Rochelle Fowlds – Financial Director

My career at Expert started because I was unsuccessful in an interview at another company purely because I was a woman. In the interview I was advised that because I am a woman and would potentially have children in the future, they were not sure if I would be able to put in the hours that were required.

I really wanted to be a part of the organisation and I asked them what I needed to do to get a job, I was happy to do anything. I was a newly qualified CA at the time. They said that they would be happy to pay me 25% of the market-related salary and that I could work at the tills and assist with some admin processing. I accepted the offer and was determined not to give up on my dream. I wanted to show them that I could do it and that I was happy to start at the bottom and work my way up.

I remained with that company for 18 months and during that time I was exposed to more and more as I continued to demonstrate my ability to learn and take responsibility. Even though it was very difficult given the fact that throughout the process I was not necessarily valued, I learnt lessons that have allowed for me to be successful and to face adversity with courage and confidence.

After this initial work experience, I was then fortunate to be put in touch for an interview at Expert. I was 26 years old, and I will never ever forget how nervous I was. After the interview – which was just wonderful – I had to sit outside in my car for about half an hour just to settle down. I could not believe the difference in the approach at Expert, and it gave me absolute confidence that I wanted to be a part of this company.

The rest is history, as they say. I have been with Expert for 15 years now. I started as an assistant to the financial manager at the time and worked my way up the ranks. Today I am proud to say that I am the Finance Director as well as part owner of the business. I work with an incredible team (of mostly woman I may add) on a daily basis and I absolutely love what I do.

I have learned that if you want something and you put your mind to it you CAN do it – no matter what anyone else says. You must believe in yourself and most of all you need courage to get through the moments where things seem impossible. Find strength and motivation from mentors and colleagues that you respect and can learn from. Nothing is impossible if you just believe and work hard.

I was extremely lucky to have crossed paths with Jonny Aarons. He never questioned my ability, my limits, or the fact that I was a woman. He trusted me and believed in me from the start and that is the greatest gift he ever gave me. It helped me find the courage, strength, and self-belief to be my best. Even today, when I have tough days, I draw on that strength and self-belief and it allows me to face any situation that comes my way.

Never give up, never give in, work hard, have courage, be brave and you will succeed. I salute Expert for teaching me all these lessons and I carry them with me every day.

May Khan Womens Day Posts 1

May Khan – Internal Sales Manager

During my career and as I progressed into more senior roles and positions of leadership, I learned that it is important to be your authentic self. To some people this may sound obvious, but there’s many people who spend so much of their time and energy trying to be what everyone expects them to be, like I used to. We think we must be Superwoman and can’t show any sign of weakness or vulnerability.

My top tip for women aspiring to leadership roles is to be strong, kind, understanding and firm. Yes, you have to overcome adversity, and yes you sometimes have to make difficult decisions, but we must always choose to do this with a clear mind and understanding.

Over the years I have learned that not everyone will like you or what you do, but that’s easier to bear if you stay true to your own values, knowing that you are doing the right thing aligned with your purpose in your role. I’m sure you must have heard the saying hard work pays off, yes that is absolutely correct when you do something that you are passionate about and give it your all.

Be you, be bold, and be brave. Be yourself and never imitate even those you admire, instead make it your practice to learn to be active in your own personal and professional developments. Be clear on your strengths and weaknesses and develop them both. Focus on your own development. We all need support to achieve progress but remember that you learn the most by helping others.

Lastly, seek mentors. People who you can learn from and people that can champion you. In all my years of experience, I took all the guidance and advice from my mentor and superiors and used it to the best of my ability to be successful in my career. Thank you Rochelle Fowlds my mentor.

I leave you with these words: never give up, work hard, be kind, be humble, stay true to yourself and remember, a positive attitude is a positive outlook!

Bernine Womens Day Posts

Bernine Josef – Customer Relationship Manager

My career with Expert started 1st May 2003. I have had the privilege to work with many different people and personalities from independent retailers and suppliers over the past 18 years.

There are many lessons I have learned during this time, and they can be summarised as follows:

Develop relationships and have respect for your colleagues. Enjoy what you’re doing. Go the extra mile and make the most of every opportunity to diversify yourself, your mindset, and your skills.

Always be honest. Don’t over-promise and then under-deliver and be sure to learn from your mistakes.

To get ahead in the workplace, my advice to other women is to always be eager to learn and be willing to accept criticism. Be approachable and offer help wherever you can.

Masabata Womens Day Posts

Masabata Ditsebe – Orders Manager

Through my experience over the years, I have learned a lot and all these lessons have shaped me into the person I am today. There has been a lot of trial and error, and there still is, which is how we continue to learn and grow. To create something perfect there has to be some trial and error, and then from that you learn what changes you need to make to grow as a person. It is important to learn to plan ahead and to be able to identify issues before hand and to take it upon yourself to learn from each mistake you make.

I have learned that you should never take your position for granted. You must always work extra hard and give 200% effort, even if you are not asked to give extra. This is how you will stand out from the crowd.

Asking questions on the job and listening to your colleagues and superiors will help you gain more knowledge and knowledge is a very powerful tool you can use to empower yourself. When you have knowledge, you have the tools to step up and grow more.

Recently it’s been very challenging time for us all, but I have learned that it’s vitally important to be positive and to encourage yourself. Each day is a fresh start and a brand-new opportunity. Every morning when you wake up, you have the power to decide how your day will turn out. It’s all about your mindset.

Take pride in your work, do your best in each task you’re given, trying your utmost best to deliver the best results you possibly can. Failing, or making mistakes, does not mean that it’s the end of the road and that you must give up. It only means that you are now one step closer to reaching your goal. You can correct the mistakes you made this time and try again. When you eventually succeed, you will see that all the hardships were all worth it and that they only made you stronger.

Jacqueline Womens Day Posts 1

Jacqueline Tlou – Debtors Supervisor

I started working at Expert at the age of 20, and I can confidently say that I have grown up mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually.

I met people along the way that have motivated me and helped me to get to where I am today, including those that made me cry at some point – those were some difficult lessons learned.

Starting at a working environment from such a young age, I have learned a lot and I am extremely proud of these achievements.

To the other women out there finding their way in the workplace, I would like to share with you some of the lessons I have learned.

Don’t take anything personally. That’s my personal motto in life, whatever happens, do not personalise it. Learn what you can from the experience and move forward.

Feed your mind with positivity from the moment you wake up. The way you start your day will be the way it will end, so make sure you start it on a positive note and the rest will fall in accordingly.

It takes both rain and sunshine for a flower to grow – so accept both compliments and criticism. It’s part of the growth process.

I always do my best in my work; I avoid laziness and I do everything with a smile. This is part of my daily routine, and it works for me and can also work for you. The most important thing is to just keep being positive.

Marilyn Womens Day Posts

Marilyn Peters – Debtors Manager

During my career, I have learned to accept that we don’t always make the perfect choices and the right decisions all the time. And that we will mess up royally sometimes.

Understand that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s all part of the journey to success.

Advice to other women is to take criticism seriously, but never personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, accept it and try to learn from it. Otherwise, just let it roll right off your back.

Always try to be the best version of yourself and keep moving forward.

Josephine Womens Day Posts

Josephine Reddy – Finance Manager

First and foremost, I think finding the right workplace to fit into is extremely important. Knowing your passion and following that lead is a recipe for success. For me personally, being a young woman and starting off my career with minimal experience and no tertiary qualification at the time, I was uncertain of where my future would lead. I, however had a vision for myself, I was driven, highly motivated and determined to succeed in life. I am truly grateful for all of life’s lessons which have moulded my character into the woman I am today.

Some of the important lessons that I have learned during my career have been to embrace change and never stop learning.  Each day is something new to be experienced, and we grow as we learn. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you will never know your capabilities until you try.

Learn to be patient and not to rush your personal developmental process. It took me a long time to move from one of the positions I held during my career, but I never lost hope. I persevered and clung to faith that my next opportunity would come, and it did. “The best is always yet to come,” is what I always told myself, and still believe that to this day.

Having a strong support structure is essential. There will be those days, where discouragement and doubt try to invade our thoughts, but I have been blessed to have successful leaders, mentors, and coaches who inspire, motivate, and encourage me every day. People who have pushed me towards reaching my full potential. Having those key people around to motivate you during the tough times makes such a big impact, they see what you fail to see in yourself because your judgement can be clouded due to the situation you are facing. I am thankful to each of those special people who have touched my life in some way or another.

My advice to other women in the workplace would be to let your character speak for you, always keep a positive outlook in every circumstance, no matter the situation you are facing. Never underestimate the power within you, don’t allow fear to control your ability to rise above each and every challenge.

Olivia Womens Day Posts

Olivia Mackay – Claims Manager

It has been an amazing journey at Expert. Every day presents a new challenge which has been exciting. Every day you learn something new and each challenge you overcome teaches you a lesson. The important thing is to just keep learning from every experience. Each day offers a new chance to grow, to be better than you were yesterday.

My advice is never to limit yourself. Make sure you have a learning spirit and know that growth doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something you have to keep working at. As long as you are open to grow, doors will start to open, and opportunities will arise for you to better yourself.

Most importantly enjoy what you do, because the minute it’s not fun anymore you inevitably stop yourself from growing and moving forward.

Karen Pandy – Creditors Manager

Karen Womens Day Posts

One of the motto’s that I live by is simply ‘What you put in will determine what you get out’ and this has become a large contributor toward my determination to succeed and excel in every area of my life, as a wife, mother, a persistent student, a colleague and a leader to those who have been entrusted to me by my employer. I also believe in having both a long and short term vision plan for my life which includes setting goals that I need to wholeheartedly apply myself to in order to achieve.

Mindfulness, persistence, fortitude, faith, knowledge, integrity and family all play a role in my value system and are the key characteristics that have contributed toward my achievements both in my career and on a personal level. I believe in developing self-discipline, good habits, consistency, resilience, reliability, balance, humility, an optimistic outlook on life in general and empathy toward others while retaining the understanding that I am still a work in progress. This allows me to face each day with the outlook of someone who is passionate about learning and self-development while contributing towards the growth of my family, colleagues and friends in every way that I possibly can.

I believe in the power of women because I have had the privilege of developing relationships with many phenomenal women starting with my own Mum who has now passed on and with so many amazing ladies who are all contributing toward happier, healthier families and businesses. I salute all the brave, strong, confident, intelligent, wonderful women who are all pillars in our community and society at large. Keep fighting the good fight of faith, hope and love.

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