May 13 2008 -Yesterday I had the amazing experience of interviewing 28 year old Durbanite Julia Holley, a brand manager at Unilever SA. From the minute she came on the phone I could feel the energy and enthusiasm she has, not just for her work, but her life.
I was interviewing her for a piece I’m doing to go with the June 16th commemorations by interviewing different young professionals and how they see their lives today. Julia told me how, quite soon after finishing her studies, she landed a job with SA Breweries as international marketing manager and found herself living and working in London, being sent around Europe to promote such trendy brands as Peroni and Brutal Fruit and of course Castle. For a young girl in her early twenties this should have been paradise – but was it?
“From an experience point of view it was amazing, but the life there… I felt in London you live for your holidays whereas here your life is like a holiday! Here’s an excerpt from an article she recently wrote for the website: www.homecomingrevolution.co.za.
Whilst I had a great time, I missed the sunshine, the smiles and the generous spirit of our people. I missed Pronutro, Ouma Rusks, hadeda’s and the simple freedom of space. I missed giggling at the physically disabled beggars at the robots who occasionally forget their disabilities and run with ease to the side of the road to count their collections! Most importantly I missed the opportunity to be an active part of a country the rest of the world is eagerly watching. It is a known fact that the brain drain is a big problem in South Africa. I came home after a year in London because I didn’t want to be another skilled South African who chose to leave our country and criticise the government and talk about the atrocities of crime from a million miles away.
The truth is that South Africa is not the same country that it was in the past. Gone are the days when people could scrape past in school and university and then expect a top job at the best corporate. It’s a competitive market out there and there are thousands of previously disadvantaged individuals who are really hungry to make it big. I can guarantee you there will always be jobs for talented and ambitious individuals, no matter your skin colour. If you have the right attitude, with energy and enthusiasm there will always be opportunity for you.
South Africans have chutspa and vavavoom. South Africans love life. We are not afraid of laughing at ourselves. South Africans are innovators and adventurers. We challenge convention and are not afraid of standing up for what is right.
What a pleasure and inspiration to meet such a young woman – I really needed to share this with others.
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