#WomensMonth: Gertrude Molepo, from Domestic Worker to Event Manager
We are so proud of our Gertrude (Gertie) who joined our HiSide Events team from humble beginnings to become an important part of the company’s direction and event management. We chatted with Gertie about her life journey and being part of the HiSide family.
Tell us about yourself and your life before joining The HiSide Group.
I grew up in the rural area of Limpopo appropriately called GA Molepo. I attended school there, walking about 6km to and from school every day. I used to leave home before sunrise and come back after sunset.
After my matric, I came to Johannesburg to search for a better opportunity, like so many others. As they always say, Gauteng is a place of Gold – the place to be. Because my parents were poor, they did not have money to send me to further my studies.
I firstly looked at a nursing profession as my dream job. However, my matric results were not good enough to be admitted as a trainee nurse. I then worked as a domestic, and this was when I was introduced to Trudi Freed, HiSide Group Director. At that time Trudi Freed’s living domestic worker was admitted to the hospital, and she asked me to come and help around the house for one or two days a week. As they say, the rest is history.
How did you become a part of the HiSide family?
I was originally in the role of supporting Trudi, who was a very busy lady. I soon realised that this role extended to becoming a PA, secretary and general organiser of everything at the House and also the Office.
Trudi and John Ingram, HiSide Director, introduced me to everyone at the HiSide offices as part of the team; my duties were doing groceries shopping for home and the office, organising transfers of children and staff, being a chauffeur, preparing meals, organising small events at the house, managing the domestic staff, and generally dealing with whatever came my way.
I was the house manager as per my job title. I then got very sick and was in and out of the hospital. Although this was a very dark period in my life, Trudi and John gave me the much-needed support for myself as well as my daughter who was living with me.
Upon overcoming my illness, John and Trudi approached me and discussed my long-term plans and especially the support needed for my daughter. I was not fully recovered, and I struggled to keep up with all my duties. My daughter was also struggling at school, and I felt very frustrated.
This discussion led to being offered a position at HiSide where I could participate in the development of their events company which also needed to become BEE compliant.
They explained the process they envisioned and that, as the company grew, it would enable myself and my daughter to have a basis for life support. It meant taking an active role in the company and learning event management skills. My daughter is studying law and accounting, so she was very excited that we could actively be part of the growth of our very own HiSide eventing company.
What have you learned the most while being an integral part of the HiSide Events team?
I didn’t understand much about business at first and certainly didn’t appreciate how hard people have to work. I have learned that everyone here is a team player. No one comes here only to make friends but to work hard and be productive.
The company (Hiside Events) also enrolled me for an Event Management Course which was an important step to understand my everyday role better. I remember attending a board meeting, which I must admit was a little overwhelming until I realised that we were planning the future of a company that I now owned 51% of.
I learnt that one must never give up even when down. There are people out there who care; there are people who want to help. I have started a journey to protect the livelihood of my family, and John and Trudi have given me that opportunity, for which I am forever grateful.
From my hopeless situation and humble background, I now have a meaningful occupation I enjoy, I am finally studying, I have a beautiful house for myself and my daughter, I have the necessary earnings to pay for her education, and I have a bright future.
What advice can you give aspiring women interested in advancing or changing their careers?
My favourite saying is: “Success is not achieved by winning all the time; Real success comes when you arise after falling,” which is a quote from Muhammad Ali.
Whatever you do, do it differently because if you are different, you will stand out. I will stand out for all the right reasons – and so should you.
At HiSide Events we make it happen.
Contact us forward-thinking planning, dynamic teamwork, and unforgettable experiences from the boardroom to ballroom extravaganza.