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Previously Featured

Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Liesl Schoonraad

Founder of Strong4Life


Liesl Schoonraad shifted her life from victim to survivor at the age of 39 when she chose to take control of her future and leave the past behind. Having the courage to accomplish a dream she had from 30 years before she started a journey she never even thought possible. After completing the Robben Island Swim she became the first woman in South Africa to pull a 10 ton truck and 3 weeks later the first woman in the world to pull a Dakota Aircraft. She is now proving to many that nothing is impossible, that when you set your mind on a goal you can achieve it. She has inspired people of all ages to take control of their life and to start living. Liesl closed her architectural office to speak at schools about bullying and the consequences thereof. She has regular workshops and does guest speaking and inspirational talks.  

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

I am a mother of 2 children and engaged to Rick Taylor whom I met after the Dakota Aircraft pull.  Since I took a leap of faith and found the courage to live my dreams, doors have opened for me which I would never have thought possible.  I believe we are all here for a reason, a personal mission, and I am having a blast finding more detail about this mission as I go along my journey.

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

I have been invited to speak at schools in the USA and I plan to visit a few states early in 2014 to bring the message I bring to South African children daily to a few schools in the USA as well.  I am also planning a few record events for December this year for strongmen and youth to feel the accomplishment I felt when pulling an aircraft.    


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Matsi Modise

National Executive Director: South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum

Matise Modise


Matsi Modise is the National Executive Director of the South African Black Entrepreneurs Forum (SABEF). She is an entrepreneur and an avid entrepreneurship activist. She is the co-founder of Emerge (Pty) Ltd, a business development advisory company that structures SME development strategies for corporate entities, banks and Institutions of Higher Learning. Her experience ranges from Investment Banking at Investec Bank Ltd, and enterprise development advisory. She currently sits as a Director on the Free State Land Use Advisory Board and is a member of the Institute of Business Advisors. She has recently been inducted as a World Economic Forum Global Shapers – Johannesburg Hub and the South African Chapter Head of the Pan-African foundation, Africa 2.0. Matsi was awarded the Coca –Cola Young Achiever of the year award at the Women In Leadership – Africa Summit 2013. She represented South Africa at the African Union 50th Jubilee celebration in Ethiopia and was part of a Youth Forum that engaged with various African leaders such as Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Zambian past President Kenneth Kaunda, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  

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

I love life. I love developing people. I love developing entrepreneurs. My journey so far has shown me purpose and I live each day hungry for life. 

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

I am busy with SABEF, and SABEF is a Non Profit Company (NPC) with a mission to Promote, Inspire, and Grow entrepreneurship though value creation and adding impact towards developing black SMEs. Its an integrated forum with a model of partnerships with other NPCs, incubators, private and public sector entities that have the core competency to develop the black SME sector. SABEF stands to facilitate the entry and participation of its entrepreneurs into key sectors of the South African economy.    


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Margaret Hirsch

Chief Operations Officer - Hirsch's 


I was born in Zimbabwe to South African parents who went there to make their fortune. In 1961 my father was diagnosed with a brain tumour and we went back to South Africa and settled in Pietermaritzurg, where my Dad died later that year. I was placed in a foster home to finish Standard 5 while my mother found work in Durban. A few years later she re married. I attended Russel High School in Pietermaritzburg, and matriculated in 1967. My first job was with an attorney. I started work on the day I left school, and have worked ever since. I met Allan, a fridge mechanic, in 1971. We married in 1972 when I was working as a secretary with JBS and then for a Shipping company in Durban. When I fell pregnant with Richard in 1976, I was fired from my job. Luci was born in 1978, and in 1979 we opened our first shop. It was as big as a large bathroom. We put all the goods outside and started our first cookery school inside the shop. Fast forward to 2013. Today we have seven branches in KZN, five in Gauteng and one in the Cape. We also own five concept stores in the three regions and plan on opening more stores in the Cape and Gauteng before heading into the rest of Africa   

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

I am a wife, mother and grandmother, Chief Operations Officer of Hirsch’s and a champion of women’s empowerment, and someone who firmly believes in giving back to the community, especially to people in a less fortunate situation, having been there once myself.  Having had to battle from an early age, I found that it is possible, through sheer determination and a positive attitude, to get ahead and now all  Hirsch’s staff members are encouraged to better themselves and are shown that by uplifting themselves they will ultimately uplift those around them.  I regard myself as a “jack of all trades”, having done the selling, invoicing, demonstrating, being a delivery person  on the trucks, installing and demonstrating in customers’ homes and generally taking care of everything at Hirsch’s for the past 34 years. 

You are busy with so many interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

One of my projects for the year ahead is to take the Girls With Dignity Projects to underprivileged school girls throughout South Africa.  As BWSA’s Business Woman Of The Year (Entrepreneur) I took on this project when I learnt that post pubescent girls in underprivileged areas around the country (and throughout Africa) were not attending school for a week every month when they had their periods.  These girls are missing out on three months of their education every year. I realised that it was something that had to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.  I give motivational talks to the girls and distribute the the “Girls with dignity” pad pack, made by entrepreneur, Sue Barnes to the girls.  


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Nicolene Schoeman

Director of Schoeman Attorneys - Attorney, Conveyancer, Notary Public and BB BEE consultant 

Schoeman EUys 147 copy

Ms Nicolene Schoeman founded Schoeman Attorneys. An admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa, she is also a conveyancer, notary public and broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) consultant. She obtained her LLB degree cum laude and successfully completed her LLM degree (dissertation) in commercial law and B-BBEE at the University of the Free State. She is presently registered for a postgraduate diploma in financial planning (CFP) at the University of Stellenbosch. An abstract of her LLM dissertation was published in the Journal for Estate Planning in 2006 and is regularly published in De Rebus, the SA attorneys’ journal.

Ms Schoeman has won a number of prestigious awards for her academic achievements. Among others, they include the:
• Hofmeyr Herbstein Gihwala Inc. Prize
• Gildenhuys van der Merwe Prize
• Juta Prize
• The Bobbert Medal (for obtaining her LLB degree cum laude)

In addition to her academic achievements, Ms Schoeman was a finalist in the Professional category of 2012’s Regional Business Achievers’ Awards (RBAA) – Western Cape and is a nominee for the CEO Magazine’s Most Influential Woman in Government and Business 2013.

She also writes regularly for mainstream publications such as The Entrepreneur magazine, and has a regular slot on SAfm’s The Law Report with Karen Key.

Community involvement:
Ms Nicolene Schoeman is a trustee of the WHEAT trust (Women’s Hope Education and Training Trust – www.wheattrust.co.za).  


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

I started Schoeman Attorneys when I was 24 years old. When I started the firm in 2007 I had just relocated to Cape Town. I always envisioned establishing a successful legal practice that would be representative (in every way) of the diversity of the people in our country. 


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes - Novelist

Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes is an award-winning novelist who also writes comics, screenplays, TV shows and occasionally journalism. Her novel, Zoo City (2010) which the New York Times described as “an energetic phantasmagorical noir” won the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Kitschies Red Tentacle.

She is also the author of Moxyland, a dystopian consumertopia thriller and a non-fiction, Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past. Her new novel, The Shining Girls, about a time-travelling serial killer is due out in Spring 2013.  As a screenwriter, she is currently adapting Zoo City for South African producer Helena Spring. She’s previously worked on the satirical political puppet show, Z News and the travelogue of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: The South African Story.  She’s written on kids shows for Disney UK, including Mouk and Florrie’s Dragons and was the showrunner on South Africa’s first full length animated TV series, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika, which ran for 104 episodes from 2006-2009 on SABC.   
She made her comics debut with All The Pretty Ponies, a short for Vertigo’s Strange Adventures.  She is one of the contributing writers to Fairest, a spin-off of Bill Willingham’s Eisner-award-winning series, Fables. Her arc, The Hidden Kingdom, a dark Tokyo twist on the legend of Rapunzel, with art by Inaki Miranda is out in trade paperback in July 2013.

In 2010, she directed the documentary Glitterboys & Ganglands, about Cape Town’s biggest female impersonation beauty pageant. The film won best LGBT at the San Diego Black Film Festival.


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

I wanted to be a novelist since I was five years old, but I took a detour through journalism, scriptwriting for kids TV and documentary-making and doing comics for DC Vertigo. All of those things shaped my worldview and my writing. When Zoo City won the Arthur C Clarke Award, it lead to a major book deal that has allowed me to become a full-time novelist.  


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Maritza Breitenbach

CEO of Paddycat Publising and Author of "The Cookie Book"

Martiza Breitenbach Full photo

Martiza is the mother of 3 children and lives in Somerset West, Cape Town. Many-many years ago Martiza did a B.Sc degree and teacher’s diploma, and a few years back a Masters degree in Biomedical Ethics at the University of Stellenbosch. She is the author of "The Cookie Book", owner of a small business in Stellenbosch, and is currently busy with a research proposal for a Doctorate in Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch.  

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

I was born in a small town, Heidelberg (Transvaal), nearly 50 years ago – oh my, time does fly when you are having fun! At age 4 we moved to Potchefstroom - I was a bit of a tomboy, played many sports and excelled at swimming, and was vice-head girl at Potchefstroom Gymnasium, and got provincial colours an a few sports (swimming, gymnastics and lifesaving). I went on to do a B.Sc degree and a teacher’s diploma, and landed my first job at a gym. I gave fitness classes and later ran the gym – this is also where I met my husband (now divorced).  We had 3 lovely children, now all grown up (19, 23 & 25). During our marriage I was a stay-at-home mom, but after the divorce I went back to University and did a diploma in Small Business Management. Soon after that I started to coach swimming and the swimming club soon grew to be the biggest in the North West province. We, my children and I, moved to Somerset West in 2001 to get a fresh start – and what a blessing it has been! 

I initially did sculpting, and was lucky enough to have my work displayed in a few art shops (Everaard Reed in Cape Town, in Stellenbosch, Franschoek, and Clarens). This venture was not financially viable so I stopped, but it is a wonderful hobby that I will, one day deep into the future, take up again. I then decided to explore my interest in philosophy on a more structured basis, and enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch for a Masters degree in Applied Medical Ethics. Soon after that the idea of a ‘cookie book’ was born, and it literally grabbed my full attention for the next few years to follow – and it still has me by the short and curlies! Since the topic of a women’s ‘sweetest spot’ is considered such a social taboo I was unable to find support and decided to self-publish the Cookie Book: Unveiling the Women’s Secret. It has been a most exciting journey – apart from the personal empowerment that I gained through the information that was discovered, our South African ‘Cookie’ has also found her way almost around the world. The Afrikaans book has just been launched, and the second edition – The Cookie Book: Celebrating the Art, Power and Mystery of Women’s Sweetest Spot is available worldwide. The vagina – so small, yet so powerful!  

I now enjoy doing talks about the subject, and women’s sexuality (guilt and shame) is also the focus of my proposed doctorate. And, I almost forgot, somewhere in between, an opportunity presented itself, and I started a hair salon (Knots Hair Salon & Barber Shop) in the Neelsie (the student centre) at Stellenbosch. Our salon is nearly two years old, and I am blessed with the most wonderful staff … (the salon was voted as the most popular hair salon in the Western Cape by the YOU and HUISGENOOT readers in 2012).


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Jeanne Neilson

Actress & Vice-Secretary of the SA Guild of Actors/Actresses

Jeanne Nielson

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

Born in Bloemfontein an identical twin, I enjoyed a rich mix of English and Afrikaans culture, as well as the rare combination of small town and bigger city life. After earning a BA from the University of Stellenbosch, I spent several years working and travelling in Europe and the United Kingdom. While in London I met my husband, Dominic, and returned to South Africa where we married in 2002. Up until this point I had never considered a career in film.

Even though I have always loved story there was a part of me that felt that that sort of thing “happens to other people”. As sometimes happens in life, I had a moment shortly after my return to South Africa where I came face to face with my desire and sense of journey and I haven't looked back since. My first role was a few calls in Egoli where I learned how to work with cameras, but since then it has been film all the way.

I'd say that my breakthrough came in the lead role of "Jill" in Faith Like Potatoes (2006) and since then I've played various roles films including The Deal (2008) opposite Meg Ryan and 'William H Macy', Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove (2010) and various German, British and South African films and TV shows. Last year, following an intensive period with acting coach William Esper in New York, I was offered the most challenging role of my career in Los Angeles in a US TV network film. I played the leading role in a family drama, The Heart of Christmas, which tells the extraordinary story of a young American mother and her terminally ill child.

My husband and I are very happily settled in Cape Town and looking forward to 2013 wich is bound to be full of surprise on the family and business front for us both.  

You are busy with so many interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

I recently wrapped on a South African film called Felix which I thoroughly enjoyed. Usually I am cast in dramatic roles which require a deep emotional journey, but this character was colourful and light hearted which was something I could just have fun with. I was also happy to do a South African film as most of my work has been international, and I would like to grow my local profile and see more of our own movies made. As for international work this year, I was part of a great film which is an African-based suspense feature called Heatstroke starring Stephen Dorff and Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones). Each project offers it's own challenges, opportunities, new friendships and life lessons!


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Kate Moodley

Author of I INC.: Be the CEO of Your Brand and Franchice Director for Discovery Consulting Services

Kate Moodley

Kate is an accomplished business woman with a number of academic qualifications which includes a Masters in Law. She began her career in legal but quickly moved into the financial services industry and insurance in particular. Kate has gone from strength to strength starting as a Candidate Attorney with Deneys Reitz.

She became a Legal Advisor with Old Mutual in 2003 and moved on to Momentum as a Business Development Manager for Momentum in 2005. Her career grew markedly in Momentum as she established herself first as a Regional Manager and then moved on to General Manager (Executive Management). In 2010, she took the courageous step of becoming a Franchise Director at Discovery - essentially running her own business under the Discovery umbrella. 
Professionally she has been recognized as emerging leader and businesswoman. In 2012 she was selected the Top 200 South Africans by the Mail and Guardian. She was also selected as one of the 20 on the Power-list for the Woman and Home for 2012. She won the Rising Star award for the Finance Category. In 2011 she won Top Woman in Business and Top Woman Executive for South Africa

Kate has been selected as a spoke-person and chair of the African Women’s International Conference. She has been awarded CEO’s SA’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government for Insurance. She has also been selected as “FNA”s Women who are making a difference. Throughout her career she has sought to establish a consistent and growing personal brand. 

Kate has written numerous articles for magazines such as Oprah, Personal Finance, CEO, M-Magazine, Momentarily, Cosmo and Woman and Home., Entrepeneur. Etc. She has just completed her first book titled I Inc.

In her book, I Inc.: Be the CEO of your Brand. Kate explores the lessons she has learnt in her career. Her advice and practical examples provide useful insights into the world of personal branding and will set her readers on the road to leveraging their personal and professional strengths for career success. 


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Tracey Foulkes

Productivity Conference Speaker & CEO of Get Organised 

Tracey Foulkes Productivity Conference SpeakerTracey Foulkes is a high-energy, high-content speaker who motivates, entertains and educates professionals to improve work place productivity. She lives in the Wellington Winelands with hubby Doug, kids Ryland & Deena and rabbits Mr Cuddles & Chimes. She is the founder & CEO of international productivity training & consultancy, Get Organised, which focuses on enhancing business productivity through optimal organisation. Overcomplicated systems is not what impresses Tracey, she’s all for making things easier. You want to find what you want when you need it, make quick decisions, maximize your time, prioritise your priorities and move forward in business & in life.  

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

With a background in corporate Interior Design, I’d spent many hours organising and planning office moves from concept to implementation and was methodical and logical by nature. Funnily enough, as a conservative individual I found myself rebelling against the conformist nature of corporate environment, I’d become bored of swiping my access card at the turnstile and needed a new challenge.  

Having negotiated reduced hours (for reduced pay but retained portfolio size) I started Get Organised 10 years ago initially as a part time concern. Tired of my own excuses why I couldn’t cut ties with the safety net of salary, medical aid, car allowance wadda wadda fishpaste, I eventually resigned to save my own sanity. My mantra at the time was: “desperation breads success”.  

But a profession in organisation and productivity was a new concept in South Africa, hey, even today many people don’t know that our helpful service even exisits. So it hasn’t been plain sailing but it has been exciting, challenging, fun, frightening but never ever ever boring. Without finances to plow into advertising we have relied heavily on networking and publicity to build awareness of our existence. Being a sharer by nature and driven by a deep passion for organisation and the need to help others succeed we’ve been able to weather recessions, grow teams (internal and external), learn on the run and push boundaries.  


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Jenny Morris

The Giggling Gourmet

Popular food presenter Jenny Morris, known as the The Giggling Gourmet can be heard regularly on 567 Cape Talk and KFM, is the first South Jenny Morris
African chef to be signed to the Food Network EMEA (UK Europe Middle East and Africa ) to host her own show "Jenny Morris cooks Morocco" which launched in June and July across 90 Countries, her show is currently being broadcast and in South Africa Food Network is on Dstv Channel 175. Jenny was voted onto the Oprah Powerlist 2012.

Jenny owns and runs a successful Cooking School and Studio the Giggling Gourmet Cooks Playground, she is the food editor for The Next 48Hours contributes to Oprah Magazine and is famous for her cook books "Rude Food Nude Food Good Food" and "More Rude Food Nude Food Good Food", "Cooking with Jenny Morris" launched in October 2012 with her fourth book due to be published in mid 2013 She has cooked for top personalities and dignitaries such as Prince Charles, is a board member of and an examiner for The Culinary Academy and has her own unique range of products and utensils.

‘Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco’ on par with well known Food Network talent

The opening 2 episodes of Food Network Chef Jenny Morris’ first series Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco delivered the strongest audience during the 20h10 slot on Mondays on Food Network DStv Channel 185 across 2012. Her prime-time Monday average was 20% stronger than the 2012 Monday slot average. Food Network signed Jenny in July 2011 to host the Channel’s first local commissioned show in South Africa. Jenny’s first series Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco was subsequently filmed and produced earlier this year and launched on Food Network DStv Channel 185 in July 2012. The show continues to air on the Channel. Jenny’s average audience for all broadcasts of her Moroccan odyssey proved to be a winning success says Nick Thorogood, Senior Vice President Content and Marketing of Scripps Networks Interactive. “Viewer response to Jenny as a new chef was overwhelming, performing on par with our already well known Food Network star talents. We are hugely impressed with the engagement Jenny’s show has had with viewers, not only in South Africa but in all of 85 countries where her first series was broadcast.”       


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