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Xtraordinary Man of the Month - Craig Wilkinson

Craig Wilkinson - Founder of NPO: Father A Nation

Craig Wilkinson Father a NationIn June we celebrate Father’s Day and Youth Day. Xtraordinary Women have dedicated June to celebrating men making a difference in our community. We, therefore, have an Xtraordinary Man of the month for June. We honour a very special man making a difference in our country.

Craig Wilkinson grew up in Johannesburg, New Zealand and Botswana and currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa with his wife Martinique and his two children Luke (21) and Blythe (18). He studied commerce at Wits University and since then has pioneered a number of commercial and non-profit projects and entities. He has worked extensively in the Non Profit sector in the areas of experiential education, socio-economic development and the development of men and fathers, as well as a consultant to the corporate sector in training, strategy and human resource development.

He served as CEO of Outward Bound SA, was co-founder and head of the African Dream Trust and now runs an NPO called Father A Nation which he founded in 2012. Craig has a passion for the restoration of men to true masculinity and authentic fatherhood. He is the author of “DAD – The Power and Beauty of Authentic Fatherhood” and runs seminars and workshops on a variety of topics.

Craig gave a talk at the 2014 TEDx Cape Town event on the topic of masculinity and fatherhood (see http://goo.gl/fUFQCJ for Craig’s TEDx CT talk). He believes that if we can heal men we can heal the world.

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

As a divorced father of 2 amazing children who are now out of school I have experienced firsthand the joys and challenges of being a dad. My children have been the greatest inspiration for me to live well so that I could give them the best of me and the kind of love, support, encouragement and nurture they needed. Like almost every other human being on the planet I arrived at adulthood with issues and hurts of my own. Being a dad has forced me to look at myself as a man and work on the things I needed to to be the man and father my children deserved. Working in poor communities and seeing the devastation caused by passive, absent and abusive fathers has been a powerful eye opener and made me even more convinced of the need to restore fathers and male role models.

Are you busy with any projects at the moment? If so, please tell us a little more about them. 

Yes. We have a very exciting project called Real Man Real Dad which we are aiming to roll out nationally. The goal is to raise up a new standard of what it means to be a man and a dad. The programme restores and equips men to be great fathers and role models and gets men from all backgrounds, cultures and socio economic levels to make a pledge to be a real man and a real dad. We aim to create an understanding among all South African men of what it means to be a true man; using their strength to love and serve, never abusing or abandoning; stepping up and taking responsibility; protecting and providing; fighting for what is right and standing against what is wrong. I believe if we can get men to live as true men and create a national culture of authentic masculinity where it is shameful for any man to abuse, neglect or abandon we can heal this nation. This must be a national movement which takes on a life of its own, where men begin to wake up and see that the strength they have is there to serve others not take from them, that true masculinity chooses love over power and people over possessions.

Please tell us a little more about your community programmes.

Our main project to date has been in a community called Bophelong where we took 25 men through a series of transformational workshops and experiences to restore them and equip them to be fathers and role models. We then allocated 7 to 10 orphans and vulnerable children to each of the men to mentor and play the role of surrogate father. These men have been mentoring and looking after 100 children from 42 fatherless homes and an orphanage. We also set up several sport, arts and culture programmes for children in the community which the men run.

The goal is to grow the programme into communities around the country.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Kershnee Govender

Kershnee Govender - Corporate Affairs Director of M-Net

Kershnee Govender - Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthKershnee Govender was appointed as the Corporate Affairs Director of M-Net in November 2013. Prior to joining M-Net, Kershnee was the Corporate Affairs Manager at Sasol. She joined Sasol in 2007 as Corporate Affairs Manager of Sasol Polymers and later joined Sasol Gas as Stakeholder Relations and Communication Specialist. A people’s person at heart, Kershnee was instrumental in positioning the organisation through marketing communication activities targeted at the diverse stakeholder groupings.

In addition to this, she was responsible for the development and delivery of corporate social investment campaigns that served to uplift communities in which Sasol operates in various parts of South Africa. In her personal capacity, Kershnee and her family are active volunteers, spending weekends supporting feeding programmes. Before joining Sasol, Kershnee was the Communication Manager at Nedbank.

Her experience in the financial services sector started at Absa as the Account Executive for Group Communication and Marketing. Prior to joining the financial services sector, Kershnee worked for the electricity public utility, Eskom, where she started her career in the corporate affairs space at their Kwazulu Natal operation. Through her public liaison activities at Eskom, Kershnee was able to raise safety awareness among rural communities living in proximity to the utility provider’s assets. Recognising the need to nurture talented youth in business, Kershnee is a strong advocate of mentoring relationships and believes mentorship is a powerful vehicle for empowerment. She is passionate about upskilling future generations.

She also maintains a mentor herself, as she believes one should never stop learning and growing. Kershnee holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Organisational Communication from the University of South Africa and is accredited as a Chartered Public Relations Practitioner from PRISA. Kershnee is married and has two children – Suranya, thirteen and Tayern who is nine. 

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

Ever since I was little my take-charge attitude, even at playtime, was a sign that I was destined to become a leader. As I grew I was quite clear about the kind of role I needed to play in life and work and the kind of lifestyle I wanted. Although I didn’t quite know how to craft a strategy to attain that goal, the goal was never diluted nor did it shift. Manoeuvring through school was easy, as I had achieved ample academic success and social recognition. When my dad lost his job my focus had to be shifted, as I could no longer afford to go to university straight after school. When a very junior position arose at Eskom, I applied and was successful.

I studied part-time while holding down a full-time job. It was a huge adjustment for me, as I had to work harder than most to make people realize that I had potential beyond what was required in the role I occupied. Being young, inexperienced and intimated by huge personalities was quite daunting. It sometimes felt like I was running a hard race all on my own and now when I look back I know how much easier my journey would’ve been had I had a mentor.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Adelaide Potgieter

Adelaide Potgieter - Founder of Mad Group of Companies

Adelaide Potgieter Xtraordinary Woman Of the MonthAdelaide is an entrepreneur and founder of Mad World, a diverse group of companies consisting of a creative communications agency, recording studio, chat room, set-construction, restaurants, and property development. A law school dropout and Miss SA finalist, Adelaide refers to her tertiary education as obtaining a’ Doctorate through the University of Life.’ With the gift of the gab, Adelaide tried her hand at a few ventures such as selling luxury cars, before the single mother of two launched Mad World in 1998 with R1500 in her pocket and a rickety car.

Adelaide found herself fixated on landing the Shoprite Checkers account but knew a unique strategy would be necessary to capture the attention of CEO Whitey Basson. In a neat cardboard box, Adelaide packed the arm and leg of a mannequin and addressed it to the company’s big boss in the hopes that the symbol of giving and ‘arm and leg’ to work with his brand would strike a chord with Basson. A few weeks later a box was delivered to the Mad World office: “Thank you for the arm and the leg, but you have forgotten the most important part of the body, the heart!”


Woman of the Month - Uga Carlini

Xtraordinary Woman of the Month Uga Carilini

Uga Carlini - President of Towerkop Creations 

With extensive international film experience, in front and behind the cameras, award-winning filmmaker Uga Carlini, President of Towerkop Creations, specializes in female driven heroine stories. She recently scooped a double deal when she acquired the fiction rights to immortalize two of South Africa’s most well-known women and their books, Elizabeth Klarer’s “Beyond the light Barrier” – to be produced my Michael Murphey (District 9) and Alison Botha’s “I have Life”. Carlini will write and direct.

She has also been assigned to write and direct the captivating conservation drama of real life white lion conservationist Linda Tucker, and her perilous struggle to protect the sacred white lion from the merciless trophy hunting industry. Produced by Ileen Maisel (Golden Compass).

Carlini has been voted Woman of the Month for the prestigous Xtraordinary Women of South Africa; was the first South African Filmmaker and Company to be sworn in as a member of the South African / American Business Chamber; and was voted a member of the International EMMYS. Currently, she is in preproduction with her feature documentary “Alison” - A story of monster’s magic and hope.

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

Since I can remember, since those around me can remember, I wanted to make, tell and be MOVIES. I was four when I use to turn the sound of the television down, so I instead, could read the news and foresee the weather. Born producer, director, writer, actor... It didn’t last long, as very quickly, the ‘in bed by 8 – ASLEEP!’ rule was implemented when it became apparent my parents will never be able to watch the news or weather again, in peace, if I could help it. By the time I was 10, I have read every single fiction book during my school holidays that my mom could get from the library. After every book, the movie version followed, in my head for the moment. I would force Marlien, my best friend then and still today (the ‘best friend’ bit and ‘force’ bit) to listen to my pitches.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Roxanne Reid

Roxanne Reid - Author, Editor, Writer and Blogger at ReidWrite

Roxanne ReidRoxanne Reid is an independent writer, author, editor and blogger. She did her BA Hons in English Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, her Honours in History through Unisa and short courses in journalism and creative writing at Stellenbosch and Cape Town universities. She was editor of a food industry journal for a decade and won more than a dozen Pica Awards for journalism and editing. Then her real life began 16 years ago when she started ReidWrite, through which she works as a book editor, proof reader, blogger, health and travel writer. She writes about places like Namibia, the Kalahari and the Karoo heartland, as well as issues as diverse as nutrition, wildlife, Fair Trade, stress therapy, lifestyle diseases, malaria and waterborne diseases in Africa. She is author of three published books.

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

Although I learnt a lot about publishing from working for a trade journal publisher for a decade, the best decision I ever made was to branch out on my own. My world view instantly became broader and I’ve been able to choose which projects to work on. That gives me enormous freedom and makes me much happier than I was in the corporate environment. My work has taught me a lot about a variety of subjects, such as photography, conservation, psychology, geology, palaeontology, nutrition, current affairs – and fiction writing. Being able to work with a wide range of book, magazine and online publishers over the past 16 years has allowed me to continue to learn about the changing face of publishing and social media. Expanding my horizons has been an ongoing source of joy.

That’s not to say that having your own business is always easy. I’ve certainly found myself at times working till late at night and over weekends. But I’ve also learnt to take time off when I can – even in the middle of the working week – to read a book, see a movie or take a short road trip while the corporate slaves are still at work!


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Rethabile Mashale

Rethabile Mashale - Program Director of Thope Foundation

Rethabile MashaleI am a devoted mother to a spirited toddler. I’ve spent the last decade working in the non-profit sector and academia. My professional training is in Social Work and I hold a Masters Degree specializing in development studies and social transformation from the University of Cape Town. I’m currently a PhD candidate at the University of Stellenbosch and Program Director of Thope Foundation. Thope is a non-profit organization supporting primary schools girls with tutoring, leadership skills, mentoring and life skills in an effort to intercept vulnerability and support girls to achieve their dreams. My most recent job was as a Programme Officer for The Learning Trust; a philanthropic organization providing capacity support and grants to 45 non-profit organisations across three provinces. I am an avid writer having published a number of journal articles, high level reports and growing freelance publication for a number of online publications such as Women24, Voices24, Girls Globe, Bokamoso Africa and Feminists SA to name a few.

In my professional life, I have headed up a number of large-scale projects and consultancies, which include the role of sports for development in public health education, gender and vulnerability, HIV/AIDS prevention, basic education amongst other topics. I have worked with transnational organisations some of which include Comic Relief/UK Sport International; the John Hopkins Health Education South Africa funded projects like Health Promoters Project, Brother for Life, Intersex ions and many more. I am currently running a small boutique consultancy firm, Rethabile Mashale Consulting, offering bespoke non-profit organisation management, organisational development, monitoring and evaluation, fundraising to corporate social responsibility departments, non-profit organisations and philanthropic foundations. I am passionate about coaching and mentorship, women and girls’ rights, leadership development and governance in civil society organisations. My dream is to see every woman and girl child living her full potential.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Liezl Hesketh

Liezl Hesketh - Founder of TheRoomLink

Liezl HeskethFounder of TheRoomLink in South Africa after living abroad for 15 years and returning last year. I have a very diverse skills set: my career started in accounting before finally moving into project and management consulting, but adding performance and life coaching, change management, and digital skills en route. I am energetic, driven and a hard worker – always giving 100%. But life is not all about work, I am a social person who loves travelling to far-flung places. My current favourite is Albania, which I hope I can visit again soon!

Please tell us a little more about your business. 

TheRoomLink.co.za is an online portal which matches renters and properties. It works on the same principle as online dating, except instead of matching people with people, it matches people and rooms. It is also based on the principle of collaborative consumption or sharing economy: what one person has in excess, they share with another in need. Our target market is split into 2 primary types:
Properties: Casual and formal landlords, developers, rental agents, universities & private student accommodation providers - although there is an increase in the number of ordinary people who are choosing to rent out a room to earn an extra income.
Renters: At this time of the year the biggest demand is predominantly students and international interns, however for the remainder of the year, the target market includes young professionals, contractors, seniors and people in need of medium term or flexible accommodation.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Carol Tshabalala

Carol Tshabalala - The First Lady of Sport

Carol Tshabalala Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthCarol has been a leading sportscaster for 14 years, from a time when there were very few female sport anchors she has stayed the course and is a pioneer in her field.

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

Being a sport anchor has been an exciting journey; I have met, interviewed and associated with so many global sporting icons such as- Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Luol Deng, Usain Bolt, Dikembe Mutombo, Lionel Messi etc. Through my work I have traversed the globe, working on global events like:

* The Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012)
* Paralympic Games
* FIFA World Cups (Germany 2006, SA 2010, Brazil 2014)
* FIFA Confederation Cups
* FIFA Woman's World Cup
* Commonwealth Games etc.

My work is not just on television, I have worked in radio for 7 years, I host various international events, am a VoiceOver artist and scriptwriter. 

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us more about them. 

* I am in the process of setting up my sport foundation which will amongst other things, aid in identifying and nurturing sport talent, awarding sporting excellence in the youth and serve to inspire the youth
* I also continue to work with FIFA on a range of initiatives in development, media and communications.

What is your personal motto?

Carpe Diem!! You have to be ready to seize the day, seize the moment and make the most of any opportunity that comes your way.

What is it that you are passionate about? 

I am very passionate about being a trailblazer, walking the path that many never thought possible before, being a trendsetter in sport broadcasting excellence and being an inspiration.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Joani Johnson

Joani Johnson: CEO & National Director - Mrs South Africa (Pty) Ltd

Joani Johnston XW of the MonthFormer Mrs South Africa, Joani Johnson, is the CEO and Pageant Director since 2011 and the company has reached new heights under her expert guidance. She has been recognized as a successful entrepreneur and business woman by various publications such as Forbes Magazine, Woman and Home and Finesse as well as been nominated for various awards. She is also the National Director and Founder of Ace Models and the Author of @MominHeelsBlog.

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

I have always been very ambitious, hard working and driven. I completed my degree in Media Studies at the University of Johannesburg in 2006 whilst doing part-time modeling. I founded Ace Models at the age of 24 and the company has grown to over 10 franchises nationwide as well as Namibia. Ace Models is known today as one of the best modeling academies in South Africa.

I won the title of Mrs South Africa in 2009 and went on to compete at Mrs World where I placed in the top 10 finalists. As the title holder, I wanted to put the Mrs South Africa pageant on the map and succeeded in doing so. I bought over the company in 2011 and the pageant has reached new heights since then. This is my fourth consecutive year as the CEO of Mrs South Africa (Pty) Ltd and 2014 has seen the biggest and most successful year to date.

We also launched the “She is Bona Fide” Campaign to showcase that Mrs South Africa is real women – moms, wives and successful career women, and re-launched the Mrs SA brand as a Lifestyle Brand.

I became a Mom in 2011 and recently started the “Mom in Heels Blog” which is a witty and realistic blog about the life of a working mom. 

What is your personal motto?

I have had many mottos and quotes that have inspired me over the years. What it comes down to is that success comes with hard work and dedication and that magic only happens when you are out of your comfort zone.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins - Founder of The Wonderbag

Sarah Collins XWSarah Collins is a South African adventurer, entrepreneur and lifelong social activist. She thrives on challenges and has worked tirelessly over the past two decades to initiate change in the realms of gender-equality and environmental sustainability.

The small home business, Wonderbag, has expanded into a global social impact business. It is a dual model company with The Wonderbag Foundation focused on the poorest of the poor and a commercial retail business called Natural Balance. The busy Wonderbag factories produce hundreds of Wonderbags each day to meet local and international demand, especially through the Buy One, Give One partnership with exclusive retail partner, Amazon.com.

For each Wonderbag bought online, one is donated to a rural family in need in Africa. Since the bag has launched in 2008, over 700,000 bags have been distributed throughout Africa to families in need. Sarah has also taken the Wonderbag to the Middle East where it has been a gracious welcome in vast Syrian refugee camps. Sarah has been recognized as one of Oprah’s ‘heroines’ in the South African edition of O Magazine, spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos and voted one of the most powerful women entrepreneurs of the year by Fortune Magazine for 2013.  

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

I grew up in rural, apartheid-era South Africa in the 1970s. My childhood inspired my lifework focusing on empowering women living below the poverty line through grassroots efforts. Educated in both the UK and South Africa, I spent much of my school years challenging Apartheid. I returned to Africa to launch and run a horseback riding safari business in Botswana, and have since devoted my life to community projects. Among others, my career has seen me run for political office, set-up my own NGO and help local communities create thriving business to support their livelihood. But my true passion and drive is inspired by my love and belief in the Wonderbag and growing the business. 


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