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Previously Featured

Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Maria Phalime

Maria Phalime, Doctor Turned Award-Winning Author

Maria PhalimeMaria Phalime is one of South Africa’s newest award-winning authors. Born and raised in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, Maria moved to Cape Town in 1991 to pursue her studies at the University of Cape Town, from where she graduated with degrees in Science and Medicine. She practiced for a brief period as a general practitioner in South Africa and the United Kingdom, before leaving medical practice to pursue non-clinical interests. In 2010 Maria found her voice as a writer.

She studied under the acclaimed South African author, Mike Nicol, on the Get Smarter/Random House Struik Nonfiction Story Course. In 2012 Maria was the recipient of the inaugural City Press Nonfiction Award for her memoir, Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away. In 2013 her novel for teens, Second Chances, was the English language category winner of the Maskew Miller Longman Literature Awards.  

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

I qualified as a medical doctor in 1999, and after a short period of medical practice I chose to walk away from medicine. I have written extensively about the factors that pushed me out of medicine in my award-winning memoir, Postmortem – The Doctor Who Walked Away. Just as important, if not more so, was the pull I felt towards a more authentic and purposeful life. It hasn’t been easy and the journey continues, but I believe we can all contribute best to the world when we do what we love. 

Are you busy with any projects at the moment?

I continue to write – I have an active blog, and I am also researching my next non-fiction book. I also share my story through speaking engagements.

What is your personal motto?

Dream BIG. Follow your heart.

What are you passionate about? 

Purpose. I believe we are all here for a reason; it is our responsibility to find that reason and to fulfill our purpose, in our own unique ways.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Suzanne Styles

Suzanne Styles, Co-Founder of Makes You Think

Suzanne Styles Xtraordinary WomenI am an entrepreneurial activist who loves to grow businesses and help others to grow successful businesses too. I am a professional speaker, an award winning author and contributing author to the double best-selling youth leadership book spearheaded by DJ Sbu (Sbusiso Leope) published in 2013. My books include The Little Book of Declarations for African Entrepreneurs (completed this month!), African Entrepreneur Rising, Put The I Back In Team (an award winning teamwork leadership book published in 2013) and towards the end of 2014 I will release my new book for women leaders, Six Inch Heals.

Born in the United Kingdom, since age 11 I have been finding ways to make money, from selling second hand clothes, to chocolates, to Tupperware, to make up and jewellery. At age 15 we moved from the UK to South Africa. I did not finish matric. Instead I found myself in a number of low paying jobs in various small businesses in and around Pretoria. I eventually found my niche in the Out-of-Home Media industry and was appointed as South Africa’s first ever female director of an Out-of-Home Media corporate company. Ever the entrepreneur, I started my own airport advertising business in 2002 selling it at its high point a few years later to a listed company. In 2012, together with my husband Chris, I started Makes You Think. Chris and I are the presenters of The Success Show, Africa’s only weekly business coaching talk radio show, on Mix FM (93.8FM).

Many young start-up entrepreneurs desire to enlist the skills of a professional business coach yet truth be told, few have the financial means to do so. That’s why we started this show – to provide young South Africans with top quality mind and money success lessons. Now all they have to do is to listen, learn and then apply the knowledge gained. Each radio show is podcast, sent out via social media and weekly downloads of the show are now running at close to 1,500. I have spoken at many local and international events. My favourite talk is ‘How to create something from nothing – the way of the enlightened entrepreneur’. In 2013 Chris and I made a guest appearance in Episode 6 of CNBC Africa’s reality TV programme, Top Trader, teaching the finalists about the psychology of successful stock trading. My most recent brainchild, We Publish You Africa, teaches you how to write and publish a quality book and to then build on that momentum by branding yourself as an expert entrepreneur and industry leader.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Deliwe Mulumba

Deliwe Mulumba - Fashion Designer & Founder of Deeva Fab

Deliwe MulumbaI am a 40year old mother of two teenage boys, an occupational health practitioner by profession, a fashion line owner and designer of a Vintage clothing online store called DEEVA FAB. I am also a woman of God, a Christian Poet, Beauty and Fashion Freelance writer of TOPVIBE Magazine and staff underwrite for Impact Christian Magazine, which is a publication for her spiritual home FELLOWSHIP CENTRE. I am a cancer survivor(LYMPHOMA) who was miraculously healed by faith in Gods healing power. I am also an Ambassador and Public Relations Officer for a Christian based mentorship program called A MILE IN MY SHOES.   

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

“Walk to School Project” is an NPO wing of A MILE IN MY SHOES, whereby we buy or ask for donations for school uniforms for underprivileged schools in the community.   

Please share your inspiration behind Deeva Fab.

My late mom was also a fashion seamstress and curtain maker. DEEVA FAB is mainly about VINTAGE unique designs with 3 ranges (Vintage, Rennaisance and Couture). Vintage says you are unique, one of a kind. Since fashion is cyclical there is always some pieces of styles from past eras (1950s, 60s,70s and early 80s). The good thing about vintage is that most items are limited or cannot be found at every chain store. Selling Vintage clothes started as a fund–raising project for the “Walk to School Project” but now, with the couture ranges, we design and make new clothes as per customers requirements, although we still prefer vintage or retro inspired patterns and designs.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Malla Duncan

Malla Duncan - Author and Founder of Malla Duncan Books

Malla Duncan I’m a Cape Town girl and have spent the bulk of my career as a copywriter but my main interest has always been fiction writing. I was lucky enough to have several short stories published both locally and internationally, winning 2 prizes for my writing, with one story selected for an anthology of South African short stories. After struggling like so many writers with the vagaries of agents and publishers, I discovered self-publishing on the Internet. After uploading 5 women's suspense thrillers, 2 children's fantasy books and a series for African children – I find myself in contact with many people around the globe and the experience has been exhilarating! 

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

With a degree in Psychology, I think I fell into the psychological thriller genre with a head start (excuse pun!) Writing is a process of learning every day. A desire to write is not enough – you need to learn the tricks from established writers. My lessons were drawn from, amongst others: Stephen King “when a book is finished, put it aside for six weeks and then re-read – you will find holes big enough to drive a truck through”; from Ruth Rendell “never tell the reader the same thing twice”; from Ray Bradbury that the less you describe, the more you lead the reader’s imagination; from Nicci French’s style which taught me to lose the little words – and, that, as, then, etc. But the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my journey have been: patience, tenacity, resilience, determination – and to keep an open mind with regard to criticism.  


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Patricia Evans

Patricia Evans - Founder of Mozambique Escape

Patricia Evans

I was conceived in Kenya (Dad and Mom during a war-time break in 1944), and born in Cape Town. As I was meant to have been the son they so desired I became a tomboy of note. I matriculated at Herschel School in 1962. In 1963 I did a secretarial course. Sailed with my dad, Stan Jeffrey, in his yacht Corsair II (Corsair was the first South African-built yacht to do a circumnavigation! This was during 1964 – 1967 where I was an active crew member - navigator, sail repairer, helmsman, cook etc.

After returning to South Africa I married a farmer where I became the stockman, managing the dairy doing artificial insemination, pregnancy checks on the cows, feeding the calves and also on our farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg I produced three lovely daughters. As a divorcee I enjoyed my three little girls and introduced them to camping, sailing and the wilds of Africa, taking them to Botswana in a Cessna 210 after I obtained my flying licence.

Scuba diving also became a passion of mine where my middle daughter Barbara and I attended the same courses and where she excelled in the underwater world. She is now an instructor and underwater photographer. I made a living by selling property for many years, and by giving flying instruction and doing charter work as a commercial pilot. One of the most exciting jobs I did was to fly tourists around our beautiful Western Cape in my 1939 de Havilland Tiger Moth. More recently I have been involved in tourism on the ground, also in Mozambique. 


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Dr Julia Amber

Dr Julia Ambler - Deputy Director and Palliative Care Doctor at Umduduzi: Hospice Care for Children

Dr Julia AmblerBorn and bred in Durban, I graduated from UCT as a medical doctor 1998. After my junior doctor years I spent 6 years in Oxford, UK returning home in early 2008. Whilst in the UK I trained and worked as a general practitioner and a children’s hospice doctor at Helen and Douglas Houses in Oxford. Back in South Africa, palliative care is not a registered speciality and hence the only way to work in this field is through an NGO, which I did for a few years before that NGO was forced to close. In January 2013 I co-founded Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children. I have two beautiful sons, Luke age 8 and Jack age 6 and live in Durban with my wonderful and supportive partner.  

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

My first experiences of being a doctor were in the ‘bad old days’ before any treatment for HIV/AIDS was available in South Africa. It was overwhelming. Night after night adults and children would die in front of my eyes and I had no idea how to help. I was then blessed to have the opportunity to work and study further in the UK and discovered the world of palliative care for children.   

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

Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children is my daily ongoing project! Based in Durban, we aim to promote and provide compassionate care to children with life threatening and life limiting illnesses. It’s all about bringing compassion, dignity, relevant care and relief from discomfort and pain to children diagnosed with terminal illnesses within KZN. We do this through direct patient care, mentorship, empowerment of caregivers, training and advocacy.    


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Louise van Rhyn

Louise van Rhyn - Founder and Group CEO of Symphonia

Louise van Rhyn xtraordinarywomen.co.za

Louise van Rhyn is a social entrepreneur who cares deeply about the future of South Africa. She has committed her professional life to pursue Nelson Mandela’s ideal (Quality Education for all children in South Africa) and is the founder of Partners for Possibility (a Proudly South African world-class leadership development programme where business leaders work in a reciprocal partnership with school principals).

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

I am extremely privileged. I have had the opportunity to live, work and study in many different countries around the world. I’ve studied and work with many iconic leaders and have had many amazing opportunities to develop and grow my professional practice (as leadership and organizational development practitioner).

I am a home-comer. I returned to South Africa with my family after living in the UK. I wanted my children to grow up in South Africa but soon realised that this decision came with responsibility. If I wanted them to flourish, I had to do what I can to ensure that South Africa is a good place for them to grow up, be educated and raise a family. This is what led me to what I do now (and what I would like to spend the rest of my professional life doing): developing cross-sectorial leadership capabilities in South Africa (specifically to enable us to deal with our education crisis).  

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

The project that has become just about all consuming is Partners for Possibility: We are extremely proud of this leadership development process as it is at the forefront of world-class leadership development. It is a Proudly South African innovation (developed in South Africa for the world). We have incorporated the 9 components of world-class leadership development practice into a yearlong leadership development process, which simultaneously achieves 2 goals:


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Charlotte Steyn

Charlotte Steyn - Hearts-in-Motion

Charlotte Steyn xtraordinarywomen.co.za

On March 16 2013, Charlotte Steyn set out on foot from Cape Town to journey across the country in the shape of a warped heart. She travelled 5 327km in 162 days across 9 Provinces to raise awareness for 9 charities.

"Equipped with a cap, sunglasses and three litres of water on her back, she set out on her journey not knowing where she would sleep that night. Despite her small stature, Steyn is a woman on a mission to change the country she calls home, one kilometre at a time."

I was brought up on a farm in the Northern Cape, where I was privileged to experience a charmed, free childhood. When time came to leave home, I chose the then popular option of exploring the great world overseas, ready to break free from all things considered primitive/conservative. Being overseas offered a completely different lifestyle, which I fully enjoyed. While working in the hospitality industry, I hiked and camped all over the UK, studying IT and Accounting part-time. Once all this became familiar, I longed for the former way of life and returned to South Africa, pocketing invaluable exposure and experiences. Until I entered the corporate world, I found myself doing various management jobs in Botswana and South Africa. The last position held was that of National Training and Development Manager.   


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Kathleen Quillinan

Kathleen Quillinan - CEO of Pesto Princess Foods

Kathleen Quillinan xtraordinarywomen.co.za

Kathleen Quillinan is a name you’ve probably never heard of before, but you may have met Kathleen’s alter-ego, The Pesto Princess, at the many food markets and fairs in Cape Town over the last 14 years. Kathleen is trained as a classical musician, and for many years, music was her life. In 1998, a restlessness took hold of Kathleen, and she decided to resign from her music teaching post and study singing instead. Wondering how she was going to fund this exciting new investment in herself, she started cooking from her kitchen, and selling these homemade creations at markets. Her interpretation of the classic Italian sauce called pesto, was the one offering that shoppers singled out as truly desirable. Today Pesto Princess produces over 70 tons of the addictive pesto sauce every year, which is supplied into Pick n Pay, Checkers, Spar and Fruit and Veg City, as well as the hospitality sector. Thirty-five princes and princesses are permanently employed at the ‘pesto palace’, and there is a fleet of 3 vehicles delivering product daily. The high risk production facility in Capricorn Park, Muizenberg was bought by the business in 2008 and has just passed its annual food safety audit, scoring an impressive A+. Pesto Princess is also available in far-flung corners of the kingdom like Gauteng and KZN, in the fridges of Pick n Pay.  


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Michelle Vooght

Michelle Vooght - Spiritual Teacher, Healer and Speaker

MIchelle Vooght

Michelle Vooght, born 8 July 1971, initially had a corporate career of more than 15 years which included Human Resources, people development, training and facilitation. Michelle holds an IPM Diploma in Human Resources Management. She has also had her own HR Consulting Company.

Alongside this, Michelle knew what her ultimate purpose was and she therefore started equipping and training herself in the holistic and spiritual healing sphere as well.

Her gift of being able to intuitively see and understand the physical body and how this is linked to specific emotional and/or trauma causes, has assisted many clients to be free from not only physical pain and baggage but also be free within their soul. Most of her teachings and learning’s, apart from formal training, also came from her own life experiences and teachings from other Masters and Guides.

She has worked alongside others with specific case studies and have also been privileged to share many life and healing journey's with individuals. Michelle is formally trained in Reiki, Massage Therapy and the Ayurveda Healing System and also conducts Angel and Psychic Readings. She has had a part-time healing practice for the past 8 years and also owned a wellbeing Centre in Melkbosstrand, Cape Town.


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