Alumna profile: Dr Jade Verbeek
“Soak up and take in every learning opportunity presented to you during your time as a student at UP. Sometimes, in the midst of an experience, you do not always get to see its value, but I promise you, once you leave university and you find yourself in various business and even social settings, you will realise just how valuable all your experiences at university have been and how they have equipped you for those situations.” This is the advice of Dr Jade Verbeek, who certainly practised what she preaches. Read more about what she has achieved, careerwise, in a relatively short span of time, her future plans and what inspires and motivates her...
Q: Briefly summarise your career since graduating from UP, with special mention of specific highlights/milestones.
A: As I have just recently graduated from UP with my PhD (barely a month ago), I cannot really talk about that as yet. However, based on my undergraduate and my postgraduate studies in Marketing Management at UP, my qualifications and experience gained from studying at UP have afforded me the opportunity to work in diverse industries.
I have held various positions, which included brand and research specialist as well as product manager within the telecommunications industry, strategist at a brand strategy agency, lecturer within the tertiary education sector, and as a sales and marketing executive in the medical industry.
Q: To what extent did your studies at UP benefit you in your career and contribute to your success?
A: The knowledge gained throughout my studies at UP has stood me in good stead throughout my career, but more importantly, I believe that it was also the experience gained from doing practical modules, being able to work with industry clients and having many opportunities to engage in critical thinking that have greatly benefited me throughout my career. It also afforded me the opportunity to work for some amazing employers in my career to date.
Q: Given your academic experience at UP, what advice can you pass on to current students?
A: To current students, my advice would be to soak up and take in every learning opportunity presented to you during your time as a student at UP. Sometimes, in the midst of an experience, you do not always get to see its value, but I promise you once you leave university, you will find yourself in various business and even social settings, and that is when you realise just how valuable all your experiences at university have been and how they have equipped you for those situations.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the foundation of a successful business/company/consultancy/organisation?
A: In my opinion, what makes organisations or businesses successful stems from how valued their employees feel. As Doug Conant so aptly pointed out: "To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace."
Q: Which business/trade-related publications (magazines/newspapers/blogs, etc) do you enjoy reading?
A: I believe one can never learn too much about anything (there is always room to learn more) - so I enjoy taking some time out to read through a few business and marketing-related articles posted weekly on sites such as the Harvard Business Review and BizCommunity.
I also enjoy listening to TedTalks about various topics. Sometimes I find that it is the non-business related talks that often stimulate my thinking and encourage me to be creative and imaginative in the way I approach things.
Q: What really inspires and motivates you personally?
A: My inspiration stems from seeing more and more female leaders in not only organisations but in society at large. It gives me hope and inspires me to work even harder and push harder as a female and to keep dreaming and striving towards one day being able to make a difference not only in boardrooms, but in my community too.
Q: If you could have a face-to-face meeting with an inspiring person – in any domain – who sets an example in who would it be and what would you like to discuss?
A: There are many people who inspire me, but if I had to choose just one it would probably be the late Maya Angelou. After listening to some of the interviews she has done over many years, or reading some of the articles/books/poems she has written, I always feel so enriched and walk away with such pearls of wisdom that inspire me to want to be a better person, not only for myself, but for all those who I get the privilege of meeting and engaging with. If I had, had the chance to meet her, I would probably have asked what inspired her throughout her life and shaped her thinking, and probably what advice she would have given to her younger self.
Q: Going forward, what are your professional/business/personal goals?
A: Reflecting on two of my favourite quotes: "Be the change you want to see in the world" (by Mahatma Gandhi) and "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" (by Maya Angelou), I think of what I would like to strive toward, and that is to make a difference, not only in business, but even more so in society at large through making people feel heard, seen, valued and cared for.
Q: Lastly: COVID-19 has dealt the South African economy a devastating blow. Are you optimistic that SA will be able to rise from the proverbial ‘ashes’?
A: While COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many people's lives as well as on many businesses, resulting in a devasting blow, not only to the South African economy but economies all around the world; I do believe that this pandemic has also opened up many doors and opportunities that may otherwise have never been opened.
During this time, we have been pushed outside of our comfort zones and have had to find new ways of thinking and doing business at an accelerated pace; and we have already seen some really imaginative business ideas and businesses being born as a result. So, am I optimistic about whether the South African economy and economies around the world will rise from the proverbial ashes? Absolutely, and I think it is already evident that we are!