INTRO PARAGRAPH

Introduce yourself, what you do and summary of successes 

I am Laura, I have just turned 40 years old, I have 2 children and I run a business operating out of Cape Town (BlackBark Productions – www.blackbark.co.za) where we recognize the most talented young professionals and the most employable varsity students from across the country.

What is your SPICE4LIFE? That thing that gets you up in the mornings?

 I love the idea that I can make a difference in someone’s life, even if in my own small way. 

CELEBRATING WOMANHOOD

To me celebrating womanhood means acceptance and grace. Or perhaps acceptance with grace. Women are resourceful, we make things happen, we are strong and we overcome many barriers in our way. 

I believe we need to do this by counting on each other and being the one that can be counted on. 

How important is it for women to lift each other up and what does that mean to you?

I operate a female programme called Lift as You Rise, lifted from the title of Bonang Mohale’s recent book. To me it is important that we share our knowledge and experiences with everyone around us, in order to make a difference for us all, and for our children. 

For Women’s Day, celebrating equality and access for women, what is the most important message you want to send out?

That nothing is insurmountable. 

ON A PROFESSIONAL NOTE

I wanted to work in Management Consulting, it just sounded so glamorous, and I guess  I always had an interest in business. I never gave myself a chance though as I’d heard it was so competitive to get into that I never event tried out, or applied. And here I am today, not working for a management consultancy but working side by side with all of them!

I define success as follows…

Success is making a positive difference and finding a way to be content in yourself.

How hard is it to make it to the top?

I don’t even know if I want to make it to the top. I want to be a good person a good boss and a good mother – and I don’t want to have to sacrifice one to be another.

How does one create a supportive environment at home to support your ultimate professional success?

As a single mother, I am responsible for everything at home as much as I am in the office. I do, however, ensure I take time out from work to be with my children.

What are the trade-offs that I will need to make? Is it all worth it? 

I don’t think I ‘need’ to make any trade offs. I feel lucky and blessed to have a business I enjoy and 2 children I adore. Being the ‘top’ of a major corporate yet working all hours and missing out on family life, isn’t what I consider to be having it all.  

ON A PERSONAL NOTE

The best decision I have ever made was…having my children (and the third child – BlackBark)

The worst decision I have ever made was…I have made many poor choices but they all made me who I am today!

My best ‘switch off’ strategy is… family time, or a glass of wine with close friends!

WHAT INSPIRES ME

The leadership qualities I most admire are…

The woman that inspires me is … because …Thuli Madonsela – truth and honesty in the face of pressure. 

My daughter – she inspires me to be the very best person I can be. 

Jacinda Ardern – the PM of New Zealand – leading as a female, embracing womanhood and not trying to fit into a preprescribed mould. 

My life’s motto is…do unto others as you wish to they would do unto you. 

And 

Intention is everything. We all make mistakes but if the initial intention came from a good place, I do believe we won’t veer too far from the path. 

A MESSAGE TO OTHER WOMEN

I think the most significant barrier to female leadership is…the current way society is structured and the viewpoints of what it takes to be a ‘leader’. 

The biggest challenge for the generation of women behind me will be…

My top three tips for women are…

  • Be yourself 
  • Believe in yourself
  • Surround yourself with people you trust

What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age?

Work/life balance

LIVING A LEGACY

My personal message to the world is…treat everyone with grace. Just because you are successful does not give you the right to be rude or dismissive of others. 

….. is important to me because…everyone has their own story. 

I believe support/giving back to the community is important because…there but for the Grace of God. It could be any one of us. This reminds me of a quote from a Dr Zeuss book – people are people no matter how small’. 

You can never know what is around the next corner, so be sure to fill each moment to the full with life, love and happiness. Make a difference now, not tomorrow and act with grace. Grace is one of my favourite words. 

Laura Barker, MD, BlackBark Productions. 

www.blackbark.co.za

https://www.linkedin.com/in/laura-barker-4203a113/

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