The dynamic duo, Caren Jordaan and Ginette Blackbeard, founded Kunekt just short of 3 years ago.
Caren has been Financial Director at Atlantis Group for four years and Ginette, previously a partner in an advertising agency specialising in property development marketing, is Director at Atlantis Manufacturing Management Systems.
I had the privilege of asking them 5 Questions.
You both have demanding day jobs and yet you also manage to run a successful networking platform. What is Kunekt and what was your motivation behind its formation?
3 years ago, we started Kunekt as a platform to connect like-minded professional women and entrepreneurs. Back then, not much existed in terms of support for women in business. We had attended a few networking clubs, but they were largely aimed at the entrepreneur.
As professional women, a bit further advanced in our careers, we were looking to really connect with other successful, inspirational women. In a world where trust is the most powerful currency in business today, we knew that learning to build good relationships is pivotal to the success of any business.
With a vision of quality over quantity in mind, we opted to keep our events very intimate and exclusive, in order to create a more relaxed, personal space which fosters collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and experience.
Over the last few months, we’ve also hosted a number of inspirational guest speakers. In doing so, we hope to educate and empower women to be a powerful economic force in the business landscape.
What do you believe are the main factors behind the success of Kunekt and how do you gauge its success?
We believe we fill a very niche gap in the market. Because our events are kept purposefully small – usually a maximum of ten attendees – we give women the opportunity to really connect and get to know each other and as such, we’ve managed to build up a strong core following.
We love seeing not only collaborations and business that have come out of connections made at Kunekt, but also active relationships built, which range from social media support of one another to some personal friendships that have been formed.
We run Kunekt as a non-profit, so for us it’s not about how big we can go. It’s more about wanting to create a community where we can make a difference to those that we meet.
For us, the reward – and how we judge our success – is the heartfelt feedback that we often get from those whose lives we’ve impacted.
As dynamic, multi-talented and ambitious women who want to go places and do things, what do you believe are the key aspects of driving transformation in the workplace?
Ginette: The nature of business has changed dramatically over the past few years – technology has evolved and allowed us to be more connected on a global level not only to our clients but to employees as well. In order for businesses to remain competitive, it’s imperative that they embrace a progressive way of leadership. Many corporates are already allowing employees to work from remote locations and with more flexible working hours. This is hugely beneficial to women with families or those wanting to start families.
I think in the past many women have fallen out of the rungs of the corporate ladder as it became a choice of either work or family. If more businesses could adopt this forward way of thinking, it would have a huge effect on transformation in the workplace.
What are some of the most profound things you have learned or discoveries you have made since the inception of Kunekt?
Caren: It is amazing how all ladies, no matter what their job description or business industry, have the need to connect on all different aspects of life – home, family, business, personal goals, etc.
Ginette: I’ve discovered the power a sense of community can have and how surrounding yourself with like-minded people can lift you up to greater levels. There is an African proverb that says that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. Also, having a partner in Kunekt to share the trials and tribulations of business and life has been an immense support.
Advice for young women embarking on the journey of career and adulthood?
Ginette: Be a lifelong student! It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal study, but surround yourself with knowledge to cultivate and sustain an enquiring mind. These days, there is a plethora of knowledge and online mentors available in the form of YouTube, e-books, audio books, articles and online learning. It’s difficult to always find time, but be creative! I use my travelling time in my car to listen to audio books on a variety of business and self-development topics.
Lastly, ENJOY the journey of being young – it only happens once.
Caren: Life is about the people along the journey – the connections. You never know how they may influence your life – now or in the future. In a Harvard study over the past 80 years, it has been proved that embracing community helps us live longer and be happier. So, cherish your connections and build your community!
Copyright © 2018 by Natalie du Preez.
This interview was conceptualised, conducted and authored by Natalie du Preez and is original content, which is property of the author, all rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be copied, shared or reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the owner.