As a pillar of strength, a remarkable leader and a resilient yet graceful director, we introduce CareerBox Managing Director Lizelle Strydom.

With an impressive 16 years in the Business Process Outsourcing sector, Lizelle has been instrumental in developing the unique, market leading impact sourcing offering that is CareerBox providing opportunity amongst youth and women in South Africa.

In her current role Lizelle operates at the coal face of youth development and women empowerment in South Africa, working with CCI and other international corporates, thousands of young people have been placed in sustainable jobs in the digital economy. Her personal experience and direct exposure to previously disadvantaged communities has enabled her to relate to the realities of the communities that the CareerBox team serves.Lizelle Strydom

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

I am currently the Managing Director of Careerbox, an NGO dedicated to transforming the lives of African youth and women by recruiting, training and placing them in paid jobs with our partners and customers for sustainable career growth. I joined Careerbox, which was founded by CCI, as a recruitment manager in 2012, and was promoted to my current role in 2013.

I’m a mother, and flexibility is key to juggling work with family chores such as school runs for the children. What helps is my commitment toward integrity, and the trust between myself and my employer that my work will be carried out without any compromise.

Please tell us a little more about how your company came about.

I wanted to be a lawyer when I was young but lacked the resources to study. I entered the contact centre industry 16 years ago as an agent with CCI, thinking that it would be something that helped raise the funds I needed to study, but then fell in love with the environment around me. Through hard work and dedication, I worked my way toward promotions, but realised I still wanted to do more to advance the industry I was in. This started with volunteering to assist the human capital team, which saw me first become an administrator, and then recruiter, before becoming a recruitment manager.

At that stage the company wanted to expand its presence in Africa and founded CareerBox, an NGO/PBO focusing on adult education, to develop skills for the sector, and I took the opportunity to join as a recruitment manager there. Being an ambitious young woman, I wanted to succeed in my role and even become the head of human capital or the chief people officer. While I have since worked my way to becoming the Managing Director of CareerBox in 2013, I am just looking to make a positive impact wherever possible irrespective of what my title is.

Should you be busy with any interesting initiatives, please tell us a little more about it. 

It is an exciting time for Careerbox as we look to expand into other countries across the continent and help provide opportunities across the broader region. While non-profit organisations have been around for a while, we are looking to scale Careerbox in a way not attempted before. We want to be able to work with private and public stakeholders to make the Careerbox model a viable one that can be replicated around Africa and is seen as the role model for the development of youth and women.

What is it that you are passionate about?

Developing people and providing them with opportunities has always been close to my heart. Working at an organisation like Careerbox allows me to turn this passion into reality, and we are able to provide disadvantaged people with hope, and a shot at a sustainable long-term career in the industry. It makes it even better that I am a product of this industry, having started as an agent, and can serve as a role model to the youth by showing them what is possible with hard work and perseverance.

Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

My mother has been a massive influence in my life. She was a single mother who worked different jobs to provide the best for her three children. From an early age, she has pushed us to know what we wanted in life, and to reach for our aspirations and make a success of our lives – all while staying humble in knowing where our journey started. She has taught me so much and continues to inspire me by leading by example to this day.

Professionally, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with one of the leading influencers in the Business Process Outsourcing industry locally and regionally. Apart from providing me with constant guidance, advice, and motivation, I’ve also learnt that we have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

What is your personal “motto”?

I have several mottos, which I turn to depending on the situation or the circumstances. These include “Be the best version of yourself”, “Don’t compromise”, “Be kind – don’t cost anything”, “You are your biggest obstacle to greatness” and more.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

It is our time!

We should not compromise on what we want and need to fully believe in the value that we can bring to an organisation. You still have to work hard for your seat at the table. Let your actions and results – rather than opinions of others – be the measure of your success and show what you are capable of.

Who or what is your inspiration and why? 

I continue to be inspired by South Africa and its people. Despite our past and the many challenges, we continue to face, what history shows us is that we are a truly resilient nation. We often are surrounded by people who are optimistic about the future of our country, and this inspires me to continue working in an organisation that helps prepare the youth and women to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. Even if it doesn’t happen in our lifetime, we can still effect change that will benefit our children, and the generations to come. True to our country’s coat of arms, it is our country’s diversity – we are stronger working together – that will help us overcome the challenges and leave behind a new legacy.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be so hard on yourself and give yourself room to fail. It’s okay to fail – but rather than getting stuck in over-analysing what went wrong, look to learn from it, understand what needs to be changed or improved and move on.

Your favourite daily affirmation (if you have one)?

I’m a big believer in making each day count; you have been given the opportunity to see another day and I approach it thinking, “Today is going to be better than yesterday”.

Your favourite quote:

“What I know for sure is that every sunrise is like a new page, a chance to right ourselves and receive each day in all its glory. Each day is a wonder.” ~Oprah Winfrey

Which book are you reading now (if any)?   

We have a programme at work that encourages staff to read more in order to further develop themselves personally and professionally. I’m currently going through “Commercial Awareness for Managers”.

Which book can you read over and over again?

I’m hugely inspired by Michelle Obama, and have learnt a lot from her latest book, Becoming. We are all here for a purpose and need to be steadfast in pursuing our dreams and aspirations despite the challenging circumstances. Another one is What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey.

What are your top 3 business tips?

  • Knowledge is power – continually improve yourself so that you can be the best at whatever you do, while also knowing what your competition is doing.
  • Know your strengths – we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Know your strengths and use them to your advantage.
  • Be grounded – be genuine and authentic and don’t sacrifice on your personal values in order to achieve your professional goals.

What would you say is your secret to success? 

I stay true to my values and my word, and I remain the same person whether you meet me in a professional or personal environment. Despite my achievements, I always remember where I come from, and what it took to get here. This means treating everyone with the respect they deserve, whether it’s a shareholder, an executive or the cleaning lady. The (not so) secret to my success is my integrity and authenticity no matter where I am or who I speak to – what you see is what you get. 

One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share:

If you are in a position where you can make a difference, you should take it with both hands. No matter how small you think it might be, take full advantage of it as you have no idea what other doors it could unlock for you.

Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?

South African companies need to believe in the talent that we have locally, but also need to invest in order to get the best out of their employees. A lot of companies still tend to carry out mentorship and learnership programmes as tick-box exercises, and this needs to change if they are to identify the talent that they have internally.

Contact Information:
Twitter: @CareerBoxsa
Instagram: @CareerBoxsa
LinkedIn: Lizelle StrydomCareerBox Africa
Lizelle’s Story:

Submitted by DUO Marketing.