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There is only so much a company can do on its own. There is power, energy, vitality and knowledge in numbers

MBOMBELA – I prefer working for a boss and being assured of a fixed income every month. I have great respect for people who run their own businesses. Whether they ride the waves of success or sink, they have a quality which I admire – they take risks.

Local businesswoman and entrepreneur Ms Estelle Roe embraced this bold quality even more and gave up a glamorous career in “big cities”, as well as the predictability and stability the corporate world offers, to follow her whim, as she calls it. She moved to the Lowveld where opportunities were far less… Or were they?

She climbed the ladder fast

Roe studied BA communications at the University of Pretoria and obtained diplomas in advertising and marketing. She started doing mainstream marketing at companies like CNA, from where she moved on to more integral marketing positions at Nedcor. Here she managed nearly 80 branches’ marketing, budgets and event functions.

“The fun started when I joined an advertising agency called FCB and was privileged to work as a strategist on brands like Vodacom, Toyota, FNB and Tiger Brands,” Roe says. She later became a strategic director and became involved with Famous Brands, McCain, KWV Brandy, Southern Sun and Virgin.
After this she worked as a general manager of an agency and managed brands with marketing budgets of up to R19 million a year and became involved with expanding their footprints into the rest of Africa.

Making the move

Roe received a calling seven years ago to move to Mbombela. She established Junxion Communications – a company with a unique offering that has taken several local companies to the top. She analyses a brand to the core and looks at it from every possible angle – from packaging to staff to distribution after which she formulates communication plans to get them to the highest visibility possible.

She has worked with Forest Wire, Van Wettens, Realty1, Swift Group, Heidel Eggs, Nozihle Cleaning, Travel Today, BVK Accountants, Melco, Bagdad Shopping Centre, Rob Ferreira High School, Choose a Juice and many more.

She has never looked back since throwing anchor in the Lowveld. “I definitely made more money in the big cities, but I can assure you that it wasn’t nearly as rewarding as the positive impact I have had here. The Lowveld, in turn, has had a positive impact on me and my family. I have been humbled by the beauty and serenity we are surrounded with each day and it makes it so much easier to give advise with integrity and love when you are in this surreal place.”

What makes her approach different

She adds that anyone can analyse a company and make business inferences that can take the organisation to the next level. However, because of her mindset and entrenching herself in the culture of the Lowveld, she is able to take businesses to the next level, while also taking the culture of the staff and stakeholders, the environment and the community into consideration. “The transformation that results then has a more sustainable and effective impact on more than just the organisation and I can walk away having accomplished and influenced the sum of the whole.”

She becomes a change agent and can transform companies because she is able to give an unbiased, objective view of the organisation, taking all stakeholders’ objectives and needs into account.

Roe warns that the world is changing all the time and that, if we don’t change with it, we will be left behind. “What has worked for a business for the past 10 or 20 years will not necessarily take it forward for the next five to 10 years. However, changing is so difficult because we are entrenched in our ways. Most companies need a transformation agent to assist them to adopt to the revolutionising environment.”
She understands that a company can only be an expert in one or two areas – generally the competency of the day-to-day running and operations of the company – so even if they want to change, it will take an outside force to effect those changes and make them sustainable over time.

“I thus bring my expertise to the table so that they have access to a broader base of knowledge to take their company to the next level.”

In addition, she also brings her broad network base to the table. “There is only so much a company can do on its own. There is power, energy, vitality and knowledge in numbers. I bring different people together to work on an issue or opportunity where all the parties walk away having contributed and benefited from the experience. It’s all part of the new buzz word: collaboration. I analyse various opportunities where businesses can form a joint venture or alliance and have even taken this as far as forming collaborations around social, community and environmental issues. Because of the combined knowledge and input from the collaboration parties, these ventures have become very successful and lucrative – not just for one party but all the participants within that alliance. As the Afrikaans saying goes: ‘eendrag maak mag”.
Her highlights and successes

She says her collaboration projects has been extremely successful. “Some have been purely business related, but the ones that have left me feeling like a million bucks are the ones involving softer issues.” One such collaboration is called Going Green, through which she has collaborated with 12 companies which all began a process where they are making an effort to minimise the impact of their business on the environment.
Last year 40 companies participated in an Ice Bucket Challenge at the Bagdad Shopping Centre. “The cause was not the driving force, but the fact that so many diverse companies could do something together at very short notice and have fun while doing it. It was amazing to witness them building team spirit and standing next to competitors vying for a common good cause.”

Women have to be more

She feels that women, more than anyone, have to be so well rounded and balanced – being a mother, lover, wife, friend, businesswoman, leader and employer. “The trick is in balancing all of these. My greatest advice for women is to stop trying to do it all alone. Many women are trying to get to the top in their industry, walking alone.

“Men traditionally have taken their ‘hunting pack’ with them in business. As they move up the ranks they have their loyal supporters who support and protect them. Women must still learn to do this. We need to stand together and have our own group of people that we support and whom support us in return.”
That is why she is a member of the local branch of South African Chamber of Business Women. “It is excellent to join so that you are in an environment where there are other like-minded women who you can walk a path with. I am personally so blessed that I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with some exceptional men and women in the Lowveld who have been instrumental in the success of my business. I strongly encourage others to form collaborations and alliances with people you can trust as there is no better way to take your business to the next level.”

Roe’s advice for women who want to establish their own businesses

  • Be you – get people to like and love and respect who you are, not who everyone else wants you to be. Then people will support you for a long time because they have bought into the real you – not some superficial person not true to yourself.
  • Belief – Believe in yourself and give yourself positive affirmations all the time. Even at your lowest moments the one thing I find can turn any situation around in consistently being positive about it.
  • Givers gain – Give first and then you will get back – give to those needy around you and definitely give to other women. Where you can provide support for other women – give it.
  • Stand together – Stand with other women – have their backs and they yours. Don’t try to do something alone to get exposure if you can do it with others – there is enough sun to shine on all of us. It’s the beginning of building up long-term relationships by walking with your female friends in business.
  • Balance – look after your health and your family and balance your time between all your obligations.
  • Business is only one of them and you will be unable to give focus to business if any of the others are out of kilter.


View original article at the Lowvelder 

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