Ladies making a difference
August is women’s month, with National Women’s Day being on 9 August. FOCUS takes time out to celebrate the women of Irizar Southern Africa, an international bus manufacturer that has had a division in Centurion, Gauteng, since 2004. The ladies in this company play a key role in its success and they are a passionate, dedicated group.
Kotie van Aswegen, financial manager
“The first thing I do in the morning when I walk in is check the foreign currency. Then I take a decision on our exposure for the day,” Van Aswegen says. An extremely dedicated employee, Van Aswegen regularly works 12-hour days. “I am married to my job, I work long hours but I love my job.”
“My love for my job extends into the love for the company. I love Irizar, it is small so I can make an impact. There is no bureaucracy for decisions to be caught up in, when a decision needs to be taken, it can be done, immediately.”
Van Aswegen’s goal for the company is growth. “I want to get bigger. If we are selling 100 buses, I want us to sell 200 buses.” She is rather bullish about her role in Irizar’s growth so far, but rightly so, “This is a man’s world, but I worked hard and I have definitely made a difference.”
Celia Bester, warranty and insurance
The self-confessed social organiser of the company, Bester is a bubbly outgoing member of the team who provides Irizar with a sense of home. “It’s like family here” Bester admits.
Bester’s day-to-day duties include compiling reports regarding claims for warranties and insurance for Brazil and South Africa, as well as human resources, wages & salaries. It is no wonder she is not perturbed by the fact that she is a woman in a man’s world. “Behind every successful man, there is a woman,” she states boldly.
Bester says, “The women in the company are like the glue holding everybody together.”
Maritza Marx, financial assistant
Marx has a passion for the financial industry, and is Van Aswegen’s right hand woman. Her daily responsibilities include debtors, creditors and invoicing.
Marx and Bester share an office and are inseparable. They also add a refreshing charm to this industry. “We are the naughty ones, but that doesn’t mean we don’t work hard,” she says cheekily.
Marx is ambitious and says that her goal one day is to sit in the financial manager’s position. “That is if Kotie ever retires,” she added.
Disa Pederson, receptionist / personal assistant
Although Pederson has only been a part of the Irizar team for a few weeks, she is thoroughly enjoying her new working environment. Pederson says her previous company was very controlled and she lived a sheltered work life. Her job at Irizar is a sort of re-birth.
Now, Pederson is the friendly face you see when you walk into the Irizar offices. New beginnings can change your entire outlook on life and Irizar has done that for Pederson. “This company has breathed new life into me, and I cannot wait to come to work every morning.”
Cathy Creswell, senior stores controller
Also a new recruit to the Irizar team Creswell adds yet more passion and dedication to an already passionate and dedicated team. “Work is a priority in my life and I don’t take my job lightly.” Creswell has slotted into the Irizar staff compliment with ease and is excited about her future and long-term commitment to Irizar. Working in stores is not typically a place for a woman but Creswell enjoys it. “I love being around people and the engine room of the company.”
Creswell revels in the fact that Irizar take her suggestions into consideration and implement the viable ones. The fact that she is a woman does not hold this passionate lady back. “My motto is, anything a man can do, a woman can do better.”
Luzanne Mackenzie, stores assistant
The recently promoted Mackenzie, who was 2009 Irizar employee of the year, is eager to tackle new challenges and grow within the Irizar structure. “I have been a stores assistant for a month but so far I am really enjoying it, it is a fantastic feeling when you are rewarded for your hard work, and Irizar always does that.”
Mackenzie, previously the receptionist, does admit her new job is not without big challenges but wants to tackle them head on. “A change is as good as a holiday, and I am excited about what the future holds,” Mackenzie says with urgency.
“There are many opportunities for women in this industry,” Mackenzie concludes.