By Charndré Emma Kippie
Last year Charné Karaolis, Founder and Managing Director at MSHEQ Health & Safety, won the Standard Bank Top Woman Young Achiever Award for the outstanding role she has played in striving to advance women in the workplace.
Born and raised in Welkom, Free State, Charné is passionate about providing high quality workplace health and safety services, especially for women. Today, she is an esteemed member of chief organisations within her field, such as the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (SAIOSH) and the Institute of Safety Management (IOSM). A project that is very close to her heart, and has been well-recognised over the past two years, is the Women in Health and Safety Initiative, which is a rising network of women, who support gender equality and encourage women to thrive in our profession, hosting periodical events with the aim of connecting women in the occupational health and safety industry, as well as offering annual support through their online platform.
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR 2020 STANDARD BANK TOP WOMAN YOUNG ACHIEVER AWARD! THIS IS AN AMAZING ACHIEVEMENT. HOW HAS BEING RECOGNISED IN YOUR FIELD EMPOWERED YOU THUS FAR?
Thank you so much. This award has definitely put the spotlight on MSHEQ Health and Safety, as well as women in this industry.
WHERE DOES YOUR PASSION FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY STEM FROM?
MSHEQ used to deal, specifically, with fatal inquiries on construction sites, and after dealing with so many big accidents and fatalities, we found a passion for making sure employees return home safely to their families every day.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND, AND HOW IT HAS BOOSTED YOUR CAREER.
Most of my educational background comes from diplomas in national and international standards, as well as a NEBOSH certificate. Add that to 12 years experience and you have a winning recipe.
WHAT GOES INTO LEADING AN ALL-FEMALE TEAM OF INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS ON A DAILY BASIS?
I believe that no business can be successful without a well-qualified, inspired team. These women believe in and support my vision, and have become my family. Leading them is so rewarding for me; seeing them grow into leaders of their own.
WHAT IS ONE OF THE MOST STRESSFUL, YET REWARDING ELEMENTS OF YOUR JOB?
The most stressful element of MSHEQ is finding our place in a male dominant industry, yet it is so rewarding when the necessary respect is earned.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR MSHEQ FOR 2021?
The Vision for MSHEQ in 2021 is to create more opportunities for women to be empowered, inspired and placed into the industry. My vision will also always be to find new innovative ways to make sure workers are healthy and safe.
HOW ARE YOU PRACTICING POSITIVE THINKING DURING THE SECOND WAVE IN THIS GLOBAL PANDEMIC?
The first wave has taught us so much about managing business differently and trying to be more innovative. It taught us the true importance of teamwork, virtually, and better communication. We survived the first pandemic and will not let the second wave get us down.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE GOALS YOU’D LIKE TO MANIFEST, FOR YOURSELF, THIS YEAR?
2020 has been a massive growing year for me, personally. The goal for 2021 is to spend more time with the people who are important to me, the people who inspire and motivate me, and the people who compliment my growth process.
DO YOU HAVE ANY STRONG WOMEN ROLE MODELS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US HOW YOU’VE BEEN INSPIRED BY THEM.
It is always difficult to only mention one person. There are so many women in this industry that inspire me on a daily basis. I am easily inspired by any female that has a strong opinion about what they believe in, and go the extra mile to make a difference for the better.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR ASPIRING YOUNG WOMEN LEADERS IN THE HEALTH AND SAFETY SECTOR, IN SOUTH AFRICA?
My advice will always be for women to get themselves as qualified, in their field of expertise, as possible. Also, surround yourself with strong female leaders that can mentor you and help you strive on your journey.