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Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Vino Govender

Vino Govender - Managing Director: LA Consulting Engineers (PTY) LTD

Vino GovenderVino Govenbder is the Managing Director of LA Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd which is a Consulting Practice operating in the Built Environment with its primary focus on Civil Engineering Infrastructure, Project Management, and Turnkey Solutions.

All work and no play for many years and the ability to be fearless is what has contributed to my success. The lessons learnt from life's experiences enabled me to grow as a person. It has also taught me that through hard work and dedication, I could achieve my goals without compromising on my morals and values. I am a devoted mother to my 21 year old son.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I started off being employed as an administrator and was allowed to sit in on a strategy meeting. I was jokingly asked what my vision was for the future and without hesitation I stood up and said that I see myself as a Managing Director of a Company one day. Being surrounded by ALL male partnership/shareholders that were senior to me, I knew at that point where I really wanted to be, in an industry where women, particularly Indian women knew very little about. From that day on, I strived to fulfil that goal. It was just not a title nor was it just a job, I became passionate and worked long hours to fulfil that dream. Many days, I made numerous sacrifices and as a single mother of a teenage boy, that became a very difficult task. However, I worked tirelessly and overcame the many days of fatigue and disappointments to achieve that. The journey was long and sometimes I just wanted to give up hope but in my heart, I knew where I wanted to be. All these experiences had gotten me in the darkest phases of my life but I had to build up my courage and willpower to get out of it for the sake of my son whom I have also drawn strength and energy from. As a mother, I did not allow guilt to get the better of me, I worked with passion and love for what I did. I crossed many hurdles and did it with dedication and passion for my dream making me a successful business woman today.

My journey has been an amazing one filled with lessons of empowering not just myself but other women in the sector. Some of the highlights of my journey includes my community development programmes, which speaks to disadvantaged individuals that aims to transform their lives every year as well as empowering the youth and women.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

Our mission is to assist organisations that also have the same vision as us through the development and implementation of sustainable projects. Our project leaders are encouraged to highlight sustainable development to their clients through the implementation of projects. Our vision is always to look outside of the project itself and include the impact on the communities and environment of the project area.

All the above-mentioned is done by LA Consulting Engineers working closely with the following projects:

  • LAV Hamper: We provide food and basic essential hampers which are distributed to families and individuals per month that are unable to sustain them due to retrenchment, aged parents and kids from Child headed households during the school holidays as schools provide meals on a daily basis.
  • Adopt a School Kid: The Company adopts to pay for the needs of a school kid which basically focuses on their school fees, uniform, stationery, and transport to school. Sometimes extra tuition is required which LA staff are involved in.
  • Career Guidance and Motivational Talks at Schools: LA Consulting is committed to skills development and the sustainable empowerment of the communities that it works in. The company has partnered with various training and development organisations and philanthropists to provide life skills training and industry awareness at various schools and technical institutions. We will continue to grow this aspect of our CSI as we see this as a real need. There is a general lack of knowledge transfer through the generations, and we feel that we can contribute to this.
  • Entrepreneur and SME Training: The Company is committed to improving the skills base of its staff through continuous development done through workshops and training; improving the skills base of industry stakeholders and students; and improving the skills base of contractors through formal and informal training.
  • Pamper Treatment for forgotten Old-Aged Homes: The team of LA Consulting Engineers provides the grandparents with pampering sessions. Meals are provided and a day of fun is experienced by the aged forgotten parents.
  • Teenage Support and Trauma Counselling: I find time to assist the needy in my personal capacity through a non-profit organization, Usizo Empowerment which I founded two years ago, and through LA Consulting Engineers’ corporate social investment programme that works closely to provide trauma counselling and support for teenagers. From my own personal experience with my teenage son, I reach out to kids that seek to speak out with regards to bullying at school, suicide and teenage pregnancy.
  • Reach for a Dream: The Company works closely with the REACH FOR A DREAM organisation in order to provide children the opportunity to reach their dream which is done by helping these children and their families to alleviate the strain that a life-threatening illness places on them. As a RFAD volunteer, I dedicate my time by spending the day with the kids and interacting with them to ensure their dreams are fulfilled.
  • LA Golf Academy: LA Consulting together with Umhlali Country Club’s Development Academy in conjunction with SA Kids KZN focusses on developing boys and girls from the ages of 5-14 years old who show an interest in playing golf. LA is passionate about changing lives in South Africa and is proud to be part of this initiative. LA sees sport as a key catalyst in the development of any child. LA’s focus will be on accessing stakeholders and sponsors, coaching and mentoring, and the long term sustainability of the programme through secondary initiatives with the Kids like education and nutrition. At a time in SA’s development where public consciousness is being awaken and civil society is being mobilized, we are seeing a greater desire for people and organizations to get involved in initiatives outside of their own comfort zone.

I am also a finalist in the Justice Pageant 2017 Challenge which aims to serve the No Crime Culture Project in reaching its objectives, which in short, is aimed at developing moral character in our schools and communities as well as judges entrants on their commitment to reduce the crime culture by promoting morality in the country.

What is it that you are passionate about?

I'm passionate about helping others and making a difference. When I'm involved with a project, I want to do my best to achieve success and ensure sustainability on my projects. As my slogan suggests. LIFE AFRICA, changing lives, that is what I aim to do on a daily basis and to be the best version of myself.

What is your personal motto?

ONE LIFE – ONE CHANCE. I believe that’s all we have. We are all actors on this stage we call life, what is the legacy you want to leave behind and what is it you want people to remember you by.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

Never give up. Life is tough, but as women we are tougher. Sometimes we make too many excuses as to why we cannot, but we don’t stop to think, why we can.

Being a woman in business hasn’t always been easy and everyone’s journey is different. As a passionate supporter for women empowerment and gender equality, it is my mission to help women in South Africa realise their potential and overcome the gender barriers. I will always want women to remember that the people and attitudes which they surround themselves with, and the message that they pass on to others has the power to contribute to a culture of female achievement that will take us all soaring into the future.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I don’t think there is anything of my younger self I would want to change, except as a younger me, I kept asking myself WHY ME?? But I should have just accepted I am ME.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

To be the best version of me and know that someone somewhere thinks, because of you, I didn’t give up.

Your favourite quote:

Love all, serve all. Help ever, hurt never!

What are your top 3 business tips?

  • Any business concept needs to be thoroughly interrogated and tested for ongoing sustainability beyond mere start-up. Very few entrepreneurs get this right. As an entrepreneur, you don’t need to have all of the answers yourself, but you do need to know how to either surround yourself with the business knowledge that you lack or be able to tap into knowledge areas where you are lacking. There is no shame in asking for help or bouncing ideas and concepts off experienced and astute business leaders. It is also advisable to engage with business leaders or mentors who have working knowledge and experience in the line of business that you are trying to break into.
  • Another significant consideration for entrepreneurs is that if you don’t take on something that you are passionate about, if your motives for starting the business are not based on that passion, you will struggle to make a success of it. You have to be absolutely committed and passionate about what you do. Even with such commitment and passion, there is no easy road.
  • Accountability and compliance - at all aspects ensure you are on the right track always.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

  • Even though dominancy became a major issue especially that I was an Indian female below the age of the average age, I gained the trust of the dominant specie by proving to them that I was capable of producing results. To overcome the male-dominated environment, I managed to define various strategies and then I got the people to execute these tasks.
  • I believe that the amazing dedicated team that I work with endow me with determination to embrace change and pursue innovative solutions for the benefit of the company.
  • Definitely owe the knowledge I have in this industry to my partners, Alan Wright and Gordon Hutton. They have trusted me to lead and steer this ship to great heights. They are the constant giants that walk beside me and create a synergy that works beyond what most find difficult.
  • Survival is the key to all aspects of my life. Nothing has come easy, hard work and dedication that been the strength behind my success. I have never allowed myself to sink in times where I felt not capable. I aligned myself with positive thinking individuals and like-minded individuals to uplift me. I swallowed pride and ego and focused on the goals. I accepted my mistakes and worked on corrections. I used my weakness to enhance my strength. I never backed off from a challenge. I accepted that despite my limitations I had time to grasp the moment and put my best foot forward.

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

The ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but rather where they stand during times of challenge and crisis. I do what I do because it is my passion. I would not say that I am successful but I am striving daily to be the best version of myself by giving off the best ME to those that come into contact with me.

There is no one approach to success. But anyone can achieve it if they are willing to learn from others and put in the work.

On a personal level, I made a lot of sacrifices and worked long hours to learn from my mentors and grasp all information that I could to enable me to perform at my best.

On a business level, success is not mine alone but that of my team. I owe that to my team of hard working individuals that are all focused on the same goal. I have 2 amazing partners, Alan Wright and Gordon Hutton and together we are motivated and have the same vision for the company. Together the team work is really what works best for me. I am able to push beyond my own capabilities because I realise that there are many staff members as well as communities that depend on the success of my business.

LA Consulting engineers is not just a business - engineering for us goes beyond our usual call of duty to assist individuals in the communities that we work in by various out of work responsibilities.

Contact Information:
Website: www.la-eng.co.za
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LAConsultingEngineers