It’s pretty rare in the corporate world that you find an all-female expert team. With years of stereotypes and patriarchy proving otherwise, it’s hard to believe that these lady bosses are doing so well in the male-dominated business arena. Feminism is quite a trendy topic at the moment, but what does it really come down to.
Feminism is in it’s most basic definition classified as a range of ideologies, and political and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality. The HOMEMAKERS Expo team is, in essence, doing just that. That being said, we decided to ask our lady bosses a few questions.
Hestelle Robinson is HOMEMAKERS’ COO. Before becoming COO, Hestelle was the National Exhibitions Manager for many years. She has mastered important aspects of brand management, digital strategy, event and sales management. Hestelle is a strong operations professional with a meticulous eye for detail.
We also chatted to Johandie Slabbert and Michelle Crouwcamp. Johandie is Head of Marketing and Communications and Michelle is HOMEMAKERS’ Event Executive. With all these talented ladies fused in a corporate environment together, one can only imagine what they can achieve together.
What is your interpretation of the saying “the future is female”?
Hestelle: We as a society needs to take a new approach to how we do things as a collective. The ways of the past can no longer work. We need new approaches and solutions. Now and in the future, we need those qualities that made society perceive women as the weaker sex. We need empathy – for the moment we change our perspective to see the other side, we will find the solutions we need.
Johandie: I believe that females will and already do form a big part of the future. I don’t believe in taking over the world through feminism but having worked with a powerful bunch of woman in my life, I believe and know that women are as strong if not stronger than men.
Michelle: This saying should empower women! In the future women will be more respected and included. It starts with now.
What are the benefits of working with an all-female team?
Hestelle: Subtlety, understanding and compassion. It is also a safe environment. Team members feel free to speak their minds and we share a lot! We create a better understanding of each other and ultimately it improves how we function as a team. This makes us far more productive and effective.
Johandie: The all-female team is an extremely special group to be part of. This is, of course, a very strong and talented group of women. The comradery amongst the team members are to be admired. We support each other and stay up with each other. We vote for us and not for ourselves.
Michelle: Understanding one another. We understand the challenges that we all have to face on a daily basis. From being a full-time career woman, a full-time mom, a wife and everything else in between. Having an all-female team means that we support one another. We are compassionate towards one another and have a unique bond.
What is one thing you value most about your team?
Hestelle: Their 210% commitment to making it happen. When the going gets tough these girls show that they are “ tougherer” – gone are their individual differences. We become one organism, and we do whatever needs getting done.
Johandie: Having mercy on each other. Working together in highly stressful situations can sometimes crush you. However, we never hold each other to our faults and we are strong enough to see past those few weak moments.
Michelle: The dedication and passion which each team member has towards our company. This is something which I value the most of my fellow team members. With the type of industry we are in without dedication, passion and a true love for what you do, would just be a job to most people.
How has the all-female team influenced the way the Expo operates?
Hestelle: This team holds itself to extremely high standards. We want only the best and expect it of our teammates too. We’ve also taken a more holistic approach. There is loads of emphasis on the total experience. We examine the event from all angles and with huge attention to detail. We often work in highly charged circumstances with tempers flaring, I have found that the team has the ability to quietly smooth things over.
Johandie: We have always been complemented by our excellent work ethic and delivery. We look at the details and never miss a single item on our to-do list. But most of all, our team believes in the product and we believe in each other. This makes the expo a success!
Michelle: The expo team has always been a predominantly all-female team. How the expo operates like this is noticeable through the various processes we have in place and the attention to detail you can see in our exhibitions. It is also noticeable through the hands-on approach we have.
What piece of advice do you have for young ladies entering the male-dominated corporate world?
Hestelle: Don’t try to be thé man – be you, never try to WIN the argument. By trying to win you more often than not lose sight of the bigger picture. Use that wonderful skill all girls have in abundance, compassion and so you will always get more than you wanted.
Johandie: Never give up! Push for what you know you can do and then you push even harder but in your own gentle female way. Be consistent, professional and be the first to admit if you were wrong – that is admirable and will earn you respect.
Michelle: I would say that you need to learn to speak with confidence and that your voice can be heard. In the beginning, it can be hard. This can be a very challenging element that you need to face in your day-to-day working environment. Knowing what you talk about is important. Facts and proof always speak for themselves – no matter what the situation. Also, have a “can-do attitude”! This is something you need to strive for in your career because you might face circumstances which make you believe that you will fail. You must persevere and that remember nothing is impossible.