In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we proudly feature interviews with resilient women who embody social, economic, cultural and professional achievements. These women are wonderful examples of 2021’s campaign theme: Choose to Challenge. A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge, comes change. Their stories highlight the importance and power of women supporting women and how their rise to success was made possible through the upliftment of others.

Cheryl Oelofse – Manager and Owner of Keybase Training Solutions.

Keybase offers end user computer training for the corporate market, and soft skill accredited courses and workshops.

What is your background, what industry do you work in now, and how long have you worked in this industry?

As the founding member of Keybase, which I started 31 years ago, I have always had a passion for empowering people through knowledge.  This was a natural progression for me from my previous position in personnel. There was a massive gap in the market for qualified people with PC knowledge, which in the early 90s was a rare find indeed.  I had my own desktop PC which I really enjoyed working on, and decided to make a complete career change.

What do you love about what you do?

The feeling you get when you watch a learner arrive with no skills and confidence, and then leave us a couple of days later empowered – confident and ready to succeed.

What are the professional and/or personal achievements you’re most proud of?

That through more than one recession in our 30 odd years as well as a pandemic, we are still going strong, our ability to adapt and evolve, the support of my team (all women) and loyalty, no matter what, make me so proud, that as a fully female organisation, we have shown that we can indeed survive.

What challenges do you face as a woman in your industry?

As Candice, my daughter, works with me, the mother-daughter relationship is tricky at the best of times. When you add running the business together, you need to have clearly defined goals, keep work at work and home has to remain at home.  We try our best not to talk shop after we walk out the door in the afternoons. Working from home during the pandemic has blurred these lines, and every now and again we have to remind one another that it is the weekend!

Working together to achieve the same goal allows for a lot of freedom to explore new ideas without judgement or without having to put your idea forward to a board of directors for approval.  This has given us the opportunity to move quickly in dire circumstances, change our mind if we decide that something is not working, or simply tailor-make solutions to fit our clients’ needs.

When I started Keybase I did not see it as a family business in the early years as Candice always had a passion for art, and in my mind she would follow her dreams as I have followed mine.  After studying and working independently for a while, she approached me to join Keybase and I was absolutely thrilled.  That was 16 years ago now, and her role in marketing has had a massive influence on the growth in both the products we offer and the company as a whole.

I look forward to handing the business over to her in the next couple of years when I retire.

Who has been your mentor, or what inspires you in your professional and personal life?

My mentors were the directors of Quest Personnel, who in the early 80s, gave women opportunities to be the best that they could be. We were given the tools, skills and support to run our ‘desk’ as a small business – skills that have been priceless to me over the years.

I am forever grateful to these amazing people who saw that something in me: the (late) Helen Miller, Roy Silver and Alec Rubenstein.

Do you have any other achievements, comments or advice for women you’d like to share?

If you love what you do, you will always enjoy doing it.

Read books by people who have made it big. Some of my favourites are:

“A Woman makes a Plan” – Maye Musk – A Canadian South African (Elon Musk – SpaceX’s mom) who is in her 70s and is still passionate about life.

Richard Branson’s books – “Losing my Virginity”, “The Virgin Way”, “Like a Virgin” and “Screw it let’s do it”.

“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions in a way that serves the world and you.”

Sir Richard Branson

Take a look at what Keybase Training Solutions offers:

Keybase Training Solutions offers end user computer training to the corporate market, soft skill accredited courses and workshops as well as coaching, assessing and making sure that the learners who enter their doors are equipped to achieve success when they leave.

About Do Digital

Started in 2016 by Kirstin van Heerden, Do Digital is a full service digital marketing consulting firm.

We have experience working with small, medium and large organisations, from start-ups to agencies, and multi-nationals.

We enjoy working with clients who have a product, service or message that they want to get out there, and who value the impact that marketing can have in getting this done well. We only suggest strategies and tactics that we know will add value.

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