Beating the post-graduation height

By Honorine Kaze
December 2011/January 2012
Women in Business
Althea van Wyk is dynamite in small packages.

In her late 20s, Van Wyk has already achieved what many only dream of and for her, it is only the beginning of greater things to come.

She is the owner of three complimentary businesses with the primary focus on training and consultation. In addition, she has just acquired Shumba Guest House in Pioneer’s Park.

As a holder of two degrees in Psychology one being an Honours degree in Industrial Psychology and the other a Bachelors in Psychology, Althea is also accredited in Psychometric testing for the Board of Social Work and Psychology in Namibia

Her journey to owning her own businesses and being her own boss started in 2007 after she graduated from Unam, only to realise that getting a job after university was tougher than she had imagined.

“Growing up, I never had major challenges with my height until I reached university. It was tough for me to study in the library, because it was not easy to reach books because most of them are placed on high shelves. After graduating, I submitted at least 20 CVs around town and was shortlisted for most of them but never got the jobs after prospective employers met me. That is when I concluded that I would not be able to perform any other duties because of my diminutive height despite my qualifications,” she said.

“The great thing about the experience is that I realised the reality of things and took the positive out of it. Since they did not want me in their companies, I decided to bring them to mine, which is how I started my own training and consultation company,” she explains.

That, according to her, is a decision she has never regretted at all as it has worked out great so far, as she has managed to work as a consultant in most of the same companies that initially never wanted to hire her.

It all started in 2007 when ‘Althea’s Business Training Consultancy’ (ABTC) was founded.

The ABTC provides psychometric assessments, which is administering and scoring psychological and neuropsychological test of employees in order to assess their intelligence, personality, aptitude and level of performance.

She also provides soft skills training, which are skills that look into identifying strengths and weaknesses of employees in order to develop the right soft skills in each employee that would complement the acquired hard skills, while focusing on strategic consultations on human capital development.

“The well being of employees - be it emotionally or psychologically - needs to be looked after in order to reflect a high profile of a company. Employees need to look after their mind and body, because both work together,” She says.

ABTC has worked with companies, such as the First National Bank of Namibia (FNB Namibia), Namwater, Telecom, Ministry of Health and Social Services, just to name but a few.

Her second venture is the ‘Althea’s Children’s Upliftment Association’ that she launched in March 2009, with the aim of dealing with minor renovations of worn out buildings within different communities..

Having grown up in a close-knit family she wanted to share the love and values received from her family with vulnerable children from communities by uplifting them with motivational coaching and technical help, such as toilet reparation, painting walls or building their houses.

In this project, she targets children who are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS or those who have been brought up under difficult conditions and therefore do not believe that they can turn their lives around.

“‘Purpose and Destiny’ is our theme as I believe they go hand in hand. Through grapevine, I get to know of children who have the potential and who are not using it because of life’s circumstances then I bring in my support either financially or emotionally in order to help them change their outlook on life,” she says.

To run her association, she strictly uses profits made through her other businesses like ABTC and as Corporate social responsibility, she believes it is important to give back to the community and always tries to empower others in order to build a better Namibia.

She reveals that it is not always easy to work with children as they are, most of the times, stuck in their past and not positive about what life can still offer them. However, she has also witnessed some great positive feedback, which always gives her strength to keep doing what she does for others.

“I always try to instil in those children the hope that there is more to life than what they see or have experienced so far,” she asserts.

Althea Business Training Community Centre (ABTCC) is her other business, which focuses on organising build-up training programmes for schools. Currently, ABTCC is in partnership with the National Training Authority, working on a bridging program for Grade 10`s that will help them transition well into the grade 11 and 12 phase.

By the end of last year, van Wyk became the owner of Shumba Guest House and Conference Centre in Pioneers park.

Planning is one important requirement in her life, because she feels that there is no progress without a proper plan. Her day is always planned to; starting every morning with a prayer and making sure that her important appointments are scheduled in the morning. She also does not believe in postponing a day’s work to the following day.

She was one of three nominees in the this year’s Young Business Women category in the Namibian Business Women’s Awards held this year at the Roman Catholic Parish Hall in October.

The nomination that came as a surprise to her was at the same time very exciting. Even though she did not win it, it was an achievement for her to have been noticed and nominated alongside very experienced business women who have been in the game for many years.

Although she has been in business for only three years and has not built up enough experience, she feels that her business has an upper-hand as it is run by a young and vibrant entrepreneur who is keeping abreast with the latest technology, which adds up on their strength.

Whilst some would argue that she has achieved enough already, van Wyk feels that she has only achieved the first level of her purpose in life and still has a long way to go to achieve all that she is meant to be.

“I am growing from glory to glory; from strength to strength. One should not be content with what they have; they need to keep moving ahead. God has designed each one of us for progression but we must be prepared to take on a greater demand to reach our highest potentials, which is why we need the hand of God in our endeavours,” she says t the lack of progress is what keeps people frustrated and that any dream without action will always remain just a dream.

Being the youngest of five siblings, she points out that through her achievements and challenges, her inspiration has always been her relationship with God and her family.

“I would not have been able to be what I am today without my family and great friends; they have shown me the power of love and support and it is now my turn to give it back to others. I have had great support from my family and they have done it whole-heartedly says the motivational speaker.

According to her, success is defined as a fulfilment from within and showing that feeling on the outside. “In my effort to give back, I always try to support other upcoming NGO’s; the same way I was supported.”

Her future plans are having a world class resort outside Windhoek and building a major training school that would focus, especially on disadvantaged children. PF