Female take over

Female take over

Coordinating the logistics for the national soccer teams during the 2010 Fifa World Cup was no easy task, and with 95% of the staff organising this mammoth task being women, their efforts should be commended. The company in charge of this enormous operation was Springbok Atlas and RUDI MASSYN caught up with these ladies to find out whether the World Cup’s magic was still having its effect on them.

It was the first time in history this fantastic event found its home in Africa. For all the ladies involved in the project it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the greatest sporting event in the world at home. As airport transfer services manager for Springbok Atlas and the key account manager for all 32 teams and Fifa delegates, the World Cup was an extremely challenging experience for Lisa Hood and her strong team. “With a team of 100 drivers and 15 host city coordinators, one tends to get overwhelmed occasionally but I was blessed with an exceptional team and those moments were few and far between,” Hood explains.

Springbok Atlas had a team of city coordinators in every city playing host to World Cup teams and matches. Sonja Grunewald, product manager for Springbok Atlas, responsible for the four teams based in Pretoria as well as all the teams visiting for matches at Loftus, elaborates on her World Cup, “It was unlike anything I had experienced ever before. It is very difficult to put it into words but it was the most amazing experience of my life. I feel very blessed to have been involved in this amazing event, personally and professionally.” Another of the ladies, Riana Krige, a tour co-ordinator who was the host city coordinator in Bloemfontein for the duration of the games also explained the jubilation she experienced during the World Cup. “I loved it, it was awesome!  This was the best experience I have had in my short life and if I could do it all over again tomorrow, I would!  I had never before felt such a deep passion for my country, as I did in my four weeks in Bloemfontein, an amazing experience of unity among everybody, old, young, rich, poor, black and white.”

13 of the 15 city coordinators located throughout the country were women, a great feat for any company in any industry, but as Hood explains, Springbok Atlas has always accommodated women and recognised ladies with drive. “Springbok Atlas is not only progressive but also supportive of those who want to achieve. The tourism industry is dominated by women and there is never any discrimination or prejudice against women in this environment.” Simone Manoek, the city coordinator in Polokwane, is testament to this and says, “The tourism industry is a great place for a woman. I worked hard and I’m climbing the ladder and it definitely feels as if I am reaping the rewards.”

Women are attracted to this industry and the ladies are definitely making an impact. Craig Drysdale, national general manager of the coach charter division at Springbok Atlas attests to this, when he says that without the enormous efforts of the women within the company structure and particularly on this project there was no chance the event would have been the success it was. Gillian Harding, tourplan training manager, responsible for the VIP shuttle service during the World Cup explains that women are attracted to this industry because there are far more opportunities for them and their efforts are rewarded.

Springbok Atlas’ team are a progressive and exciting group of women who are driven and hungry to succeed. With this sentiment in mind FOCUS posed a few questions to them in a bid to get to know the ladies on a personal level.

Nicole Fowler, host-city coordinator in Port Elizabeth
What was the World Cup experience like?
Very, very busy at times but also rewarding and I feel hugely honoured to be involved with a project of such magnitude. All in all it was a very positive and rewarding experience.

Did you study?
Yes, I studied marketing and public relations.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In a more senior position but still within the travel and tourism industry. Springbok Atlas as a company has huge scope for growth and has many different departments that could offer any of us plenty of opportunity to grow within the company.

What philosophy do you live by?
Work hard but make time for fun too.

What are your hobbies?
I play club hockey, which I still thoroughly enjoy and I love reading to relax and unwind.

Are you reading anything particularly interesting at the moment?
Marianne Keyes’ latest book. I love her books.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to make it in the industry?
There is nothing stopping them, they should just go for it! Prove yourself and you can get any position a man can get!

Kim Gibbens, Durban city host coordinator
Did you enjoy the World Cup?

It was amazing, I had the time of my life.

How do you find this industry as a woman?
The Best! Women rule the travel industry!

What challenges do you face in the workplace?
Long hours.

What are your hobbies?
Being a mother and going to endless kids parties!  I do also get to go to gym when it’s still dark in the wee hours of the morning.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Just be yourself and be confident.

Riana Krige, tour coordinator
How do you find this industry as a woman?

Fun and games!  There is very little discrepancy between males and females, as long as you can do the job, you’re good!

What are your hobbies?
I love sewing, cooking and anything creative, be it drawing, painting or creating something fun.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to make it in the industry?
Hang in there ladies.  Work hard, you will pick the fruit in the end!

What philosophy do you live by?
What goes around comes around.

Sonia Grunewald, product manager
How long have you been working for Springbok Atlas?

Well I worked here from 1994 until 2000 as a consultant and later on as an assistant divisional manager of the USA department. Then I left for a job in the product department of another tour operator. Every day I wished I could return to Springbok Atlas. This eventually happened in 2007, so I have been back since March 2007.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well I love my job and I am very passionate about the company I work for, so in five years I would still like to be working here at Springbok Atlas.

How would you describe yourself as an employee?
I am loyal, dedicated and hard working.

What are your hobbies?
I recently had the opportunity to do some fire twirling and would like to take it up as a hobby as it is very relaxing. I found that you have to concentrate 100% otherwise you will end up in flames, so you cut out everything else and end up feeling very relaxed.

What philosophy do you live by?
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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