Whilst a student at UCT, she was the first woman to chair the University Students Fund raising Rag committee and was elected vice-chair of SHAWCO. After university, Suzanne received extensive training in supermarkets in France and UK. She settled in France, ran her own businesses in restaurants and nightclubs in a French Ski resort for 7 years. Returning to South Africa, she joined the family business as a trainee manager in fresh foods. During her 20 years in the Company, she worked in various positions starting from Floor management, and buying, to General Manager of Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility. She founded the Small Business Incubator that seeks to address the social and economic inequalities of the past created by the Apartheid era, by providing access to the formal market for small and previously disadvantaged entrepreneurs. A passionate proponent for equality, job creation and skills development, Suzanne assists many new entrepreneurs in all aspects of business and life skills through a detailed mentorship programme that ensures their sustainability as suppliers to the broader economy.
- Fellow of the First Movers Programme of the Aspen Business Institute of Management, NY.
- Co-authored a business book with Raymond Ackerman, “A Sprat to Catch a Mackerel”, dealing with the development of entrepreneurs in South Africa.
- Lectures local and International MBA Students of Business Ethics and Practices in South African Retail.
- Represented Pick n Pay and South Africa at National Retail Federation conferences delivering addresses in New York, USA and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
- Appointed as Honorary member to International Golden Key Association.
- Melvin Jones Fellow – Lions Club International and Louis Volks Humanitarian Award.
- Honorary award for “Socially Responsible Capitalism” from IDC Herzlyia Campus, Israel, 2014.
- Inspirational Leadership Award 2015 – Rutgers School of Business , Camden.
- Speaker TEDX Berkeley, USA – Feb 2015.
Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey so far.
I have a deep passion for and love of food and innovation. After studying languages and politics at UCT in 80’s, I went on to work in Europe, and then opened my own restaurants, bars and nightclub in a French Ski Resort for 10 years. I returned to South Africa, a divorced mom with 2 girls and started in Pick n Pay as a Trainee manager. I worked my way through the ranks of the company in many different areas from Store Management, to Buying & Marketing until I found my niche in my current portfolio -Transformation. I started a Small Business Incubator, run the Group Foundations, and continually search for small dynamic entrepreneurs with great innovative products or services who need a break!
You are busy with so many interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.
I am currently deeply involved in assisting and growing Small businesses in South Africa. Providing Mentorship and much needed support to ensure that small businesses have a sustainable access to market, and play a meaningful role in our economy. We also assist Small Farmers and Producers with acquiring the skills they need and helping them become.
What is it that you are passionate about?
I am passionate about trying to make the world a better place, in attitude and in actions and by appreciation in the beauty of Nature and Flowers, and Accepting.
Who or What has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My Parents, as they raised us with a deep awareness for the world around us, and constantly lead by example in everything they do, morally, socially and ethically.
What is your personal “motto”?
Do something to make a difference in someones life, every single day! No matter how small.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be Healthier – you only have one body, look after it! You never know what you may develop onto the future, but if you are healthy and fit to start with, you are better equipped to take on any challenge!!
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
The Seasons! I love the way the garden dies back in winter, regenerates and is flourishing and amazing in Spring. Symbolic of life, we need to remember that we can always improve on things we do and don’t have to give up, things may seem over but they aren’t.
Your favourite daily affirmation?
Be positive no matter how hard it sometimes feels, and appreciate Nature around you!
Your favourite quote:
It is easy to do the right thing…… BUT it is not easy to know WHAT the right thing is to do!
Which book are you reading now?
‘Pearl of China by Anchee Min.
Which book can you read over and over again?
Books on Flowers and Gardening and the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam
One piece of (general) advice that you’d like to share…
Give time to EVERYONE, no matter how little time you may have.
Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?
Spread the message of tolerance and understanding towards all they meet, and live by the concept of Pay it Forward.