In a quest to make her own decisions and with the determination to be financially independent, CEO Transman (PTY) Ltd, Angela Dick, broke free from the monotonous nature of women within her conservative environment. With this liberation, she sought out to empower unemployed youths through her job creation scheme.
The Amazons Watch Magazine team had a session with this very hardworking CEO, and here are some of the things she had to say. Excerpt:
In a few sentences, please describe the person of ANGELA DICK.
She is a person with a strong sense of adventure and exploration, creative, with a demand for and a delight in new challenges, a strong sense of justice and honour. She is extremely sensitive, compassionate, with a desire to be able to assist and if possible help those in need, a strong sense of responsibility, completely unprejudiced, inspired by the variety of cultures, creeds, personalities and creative potential of the people of Africa, very responsible, prepared to make personal sacrifices to achieve her objective of a better life for all her people.
You had a conservative upbringing as reports have carried. Did you have any fears, growing up as a young girl? What were some of your choice dreams and aspirations?
I think a great part of my character developed very early on as I was an only child and my mother passed away when I was 3 years old which ultimately meant that I grew up very independent knowing that there was no backup to get me out of any trouble I might get myself into. Because my father ran his own professional business, I was sent to the only multiracial schools in South Africa at the time and this clearly led to complete acceptance and appreciation of the different peoples in our country. My best friend was a little Indian girl Kogi Naidoo, and I would spend weekends with her and her family in Chatsworth in Durban, which occurrence was completely unheard of in those days. I actually grew up not knowing I was a girl and was horrified to find out when I was about 11years old that I was actually supposed to wear dresses and be quiet and well behaved in polite company.
I was very artistic and creative, always busy with some project and when at High School, mistakenly thought I might become either a Professional Artist or a Fashion Designer, but ultimately decided that both of these potential careers seemed a bit wishy-washy and a bit too girly for me.
At some point in your life, you had to choose between training as a teacher or a nurse. Did that choice affect your perception about life? How did you manage to break free from what can be considered the “narrow-mindedness” of the career path of women at that time?
The choices that I had at the time were as follows – a sales assistant behind a counter in some retail outlet, a teacher, a nurse or marry. Well, that is no work just being a lady at home. I was a bit taken aback as the choices definitely seemed limited to me but as I had no real knowledge of what possibilities there were and mindful of the restrictive and very conservative environment that my stepmother had brought into the household when I was about 12, I simply did not know what else there was available in life. I decided to become a Teacher not because I had a particular calling for it but felt it meant that at least I had a piece of paper that qualified me to do something. I was determined to be financially independent as I wanted to be able to make my own decisions in life unhampered by being trapped with no financial support. To my surprise, I loved teaching. I loved to see the understanding and comprehension plus the ability to try out new things successfully on all the young minds I taught and the same thing happened when I was promoted to being a Lecturer and began to train teachers of all ages, genders and racial groups in a multitude of different interests. This experience actually laid the foundations of the business of Transman because not only did I believe I was actually helping people develop themselves and hopefully reach their potential but it laid the foundations of setting very clear objectives over a period of time, which is the basis of any business.
We would like to know that secret success ingredient that keeps you smiling when you wake up every morning and pushes you to get things done?
Knowing I am making a positive difference in the lives of our people, knowing that my whole company of Super-Heroes has exactly the same mindset and determination that I do and knowing the joy and reward it gives us all when we see our people develop and make something good of themselves and begin to earn monies to support their families…..breaking that cycle of Poverty and opening up the world of possibilities to them. That is what keeps me and my Team happy and going forward!
In the light of male dominance in certain fields such as the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa, what were some of the challenges you encountered and how did you surmount them?
I do not see men as a particular threat nor do I accept their dominance in any situation. This is exactly the same approach I have towards anyone. We are all equal and worthy of being treated with respect as a human being. We are all in this country, on this continent, this world and on this planet together. Each of us has a role to play, some have more impact than others. Regardless of whether one is male or female, or for that matter their specific level in society and/or business, I have always treated everyone with the same dignity and same courtesy. I have a genuine liking for people and try my best to understand their perspective on all the issues under discussion. I do not enjoy prejudiced people nor people who prove themselves to be devious or underhand. Agreed, there are assumptions made amongst many men that women are not able to make objective decisions as we are seen as being too emotional and this strangely enough, despite an enormous amount of support and confidence that was given to me by the members of the Steel Engineering Industry Associations, this was an actual comment with which I had to deal. What I have found is that sometimes men in their positions of authority do tend to jump to conclusions too quickly not always having all the evidence at hand, and due to their more aggressive streak generally tend to react more forcefully than women. I have learnt to deal with this over the years, listening very carefully to what is said and quietly disproving the comment which unfortunately can make the person concerned look foolish. However, in order to disprove the mistaken belief that all women react emotionally, I like to make my point….sometimes publically! There are many many more instances I can put forward, but one example is sufficient for this purpose.
We are aware that the issue of unemployment is one focus area where you have picked interest. How effective has your strategy been towards the fight to reduce unemployment figures in South Africa?
I believe it has been extremely effective. I have even changed the Law in South Africa to the betterment of our people. I search for jobs across all industry and commercial ventures looking for anything that will provide an individual with opportunity no matter their level of literacy, education, work experience et al. This ranges from our very lowest levels where an individual has only their physical strength to offer to placing the very highest qualified Senior People in International Directorships for example. We place on average about 10 000 people a day in every area of business and to date we have a record of having placed over 3 million people in permanent employment. I can tell you many many success stories where we have taken for an example a farm labourer who was paid a sack of potatoes a week for his efforts, to the position now, 8 years later where he is a Senior Executive responsible for over 1200 people and earning an average R50 000 to R65 000 a month. That to me is what it is all about.
What do you think can be done to curb actions that bring about marginalization along gender lines?
So much! but the biggest challenge is a mindset change and that, unfortunately, begins in early childhood directly amongst family members. This means education, education, education from early, early days. As we all know this is not an easy task especially in our vast continent where one also has traditional beliefs and various cultures with which to deal. I think that Governments have a very difficult task ahead of them as it is not only incredibly difficult to logistically and practically place proper schools in every outlying area but one does not want to destroy the fabric of a person’s culture either, so the difficulty is to manage and harmonise both into something which is acceptable to the affected group, at the same time give opportunity and encourage a change in attitude and thinking to every individual
Aside from your routine activities, what are some of the things that Angela Dick does leisurely?
Read, spend lots of time creating fantasy objects, garden, renovate old properties, encourage and buy original artworks from artists, teach youngsters how to cook, spend time with the people I love.
What are some of the projected visions you have for Transman (Pty) Ltd in relations to growth and development of the African continent and job creation?
I would like to expand Transman into the rest of Africa as there are so many different levels of activity and encouragement for not only finding employment for people but for job creation in terms of Entrepreneurial development. We are a continent of vitally alive people, a wonderful melting pot of so many different cultures, beliefs, and traditions. We must value and appreciate our differences as so many positive results can come from this. Each has its own development potential and if through Transman, I can encourage and achieve this, I will be more than happy that I have left a positive legacy behind for everyone to grow and meet their own individual potential, thus making the world a better place for themselves and their families.