By Charndré Emma Kippie
Volenté Jillian Morais (Paulsen), the Executive Manager at Koogan Plastics, is proud to be an active team member of an awarding-winning South African plastics manufacturing company. Koogan Plastics has won multiple times at Topco Media’s coveted annual Top Empowerment Awards, receiving top recognition in the ‘Commitment to Transformation’ category. Volenté is a passionate leader, creating balance between business efficiency and driving profitability. She believes that the key to success is a strong team that is in sync in order to drive the business strategy and work towards organisational objectives.
Before Volenté began her career at Koogan Plastics, she obtained a Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Business Admin Management Degree at the University of Maryland Global Campus. She also holds a Life Coaching Certification from ACTP International Federation, Financial Services Qualifications, and has received training in multiple other streams.
What are your main career objectives at Koogan Plastics?
My core focus is creating a strong business that is an industry leader in its field. Also a place that people want and are happy to work at.
How do you hope to make a difference?
My hope is that the business solves large-scale problems in our communities, our country and our world at large.
Please could you tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point in your career?
I am not afraid of working and putting in the time that is required. I started out where many people may have started in the help-desk / call centre environment: MTN, Dimension Data and later at Old Mutual as a Personal Financial Planner. I quickly changed from this to a role at Destiny Health, which was the American arm of Discovery at the time.
While I worked, I studied a little bit at a time, spending my money on my studies wherever possible. I became a leader at the age of 22 and managed a team of staff and was given similar opportunities in the different large scale corporate companies that I had worked for. I was ‘raised’ in a corporate working environment and I became very focused on my career, learning, proving myself, working hard.
I learned so much in the corporate work environment, it gave me an education that I couldn’t have attained otherwise. I found that I was often the youngest in most places that I was in and often leading others who were much older than I was and the maturity that I had to have for the environment, helped form who I had to become. I messed up and I fell down at certain points, but I never claimed to be perfect. I worked hard and I still do.
What excites you the most about the work that you do?
What excites me the most about the work I do at Koogan Plastics, are the opportunities that each day brings, where I get to carve out the road ahead for my team and the company. I get to create! Many people think that when they are doing something technical that they are at their best, but most often, it is because they are given the freedom to create within their area of interest that makes them so successful.
What inspirational quote do you live by?
“Some people are going to reject you simply because you shine too bright for them, that’s okay, keep shining.” – Mandy Hale
What tips do you have when it comes to implementing solutions in your field?
Listen, check your understanding, then give advice. We do not place enough emphasis on what listening can bring to a situation. Often listening properly the first time helps you to implement the correct solutions without a redo.
Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have inspired you and your career thus far?
- Currently I am reading Built to Last by Collins and Porras – he speaks about the core ideology of a company which is more than just a mission statement, ‘it captures the soul or the organisation’.
- I previously watched Admiral William McRaven – Commencement speech at University of Texas in 2014 – his speech to these graduates is about making your bed everyday; start your day with a task completed. He says if you want to change the world – start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.
- Recently I watched Lisa Nichols who talks about letting the former you die – letting that person go so that you can become the person who you are meant to be.
- Will Smith also talks about Self Discipline – foregoing short term pleasure for long term self-respect
- I highly recommend watching Oprah Winfrey, Robin Sharma, and Luvvie Ajayi’s Ted Talks.
- Daily, I listen to Joel Osteen, Bishop TD Jakes or to gospel by Kirk Franklin.
What is your ‘why’ i.e., Bottom line? And how do you stay motivated?
God and 4-kids! They came out of my body. They are the only people I can say for sure that I have kept them alive and given them a shot in this crazy world. The core of why I push myself is because I was told that I could not! I am not capable; I am female therefore I am not good enough and I will not make it. Even in my really tough moments, I remind myself that I am nearly there. I am capable and I can do it. I have proven this to myself over and over again. I know God has got me.
Outside of work, are you involved in any extracurricular activities and/or community outreach projects?
Yes, I love my garden and grow my own vegetables and herbs. I am working on a rose garden and will work on my fruit garden in Spring. I still do trauma counselling upon request for individuals who have experienced traumatic events. I coach individuals for their personal well-being. I donate regularly to the school charities or the charity up the road from my house.
Who or what inspires you on a daily basis?
Other women who have worked hard and made it. Proving that as a gender, there can be no barriers, there can be equality and respect based on your capabilities.
What advice do you have for young women/future generations who aspire to work in your industry?
There are no limits for you! You set your limits by your mind and your level of comfort. New and different is exactly where you should be starting. Don’t try to be like anyone else or compare yourself to anyone else. Be the best you because someone else is looking at you and thinking how amazing you are.
*Interested in discovering more inspiring stores about Top Women? Check out the 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.