Being Jewish, a mother and careerwoman, means juggling balls

  • DawnNathanJones
I have been generously blessed to have had the most rewarding and exciting career, spanning over three decades in the car rental, travel and tourism industry. Although I was never a straight A student in high school, I used my natural networking flair, my competitive and assertive nature and above all, I worked extremely hard to get to the top of my career as CEO of Imperial’s Car Rental Division.
by DAWN NATHAN-JONES | Aug 10, 2017

After a successful and fulfilling career, I stepped down in 2015 to take some time out to spread my wings and embark on a new chapter in my life. More recently, I got involved in M-Net TV show, Shark Tank South Africa, where entrepreneurs convince five hungry “Sharks” to invest in their business. 

As an investor, I now spend my time imparting my knowledge and experience of building efficient, scalable and profitable business with others. My passion is to develop and nurture young talent into successful entrepreneurs and help them grow their business. 

Hard work

I never dreamed of success; I worked for it. This meant that hard work, determination, and surrounding myself with good people have been the key to my work ethic and the foundation to my success.  

However, this comes at a price and means that you make sacrifices and sometimes give up the things you love. 

There is no substitute for putting in the time; it came down to making sacrifices. Success is difficult to achieve without grit and hard work. 

For me, it often meant I was not able to be at important family gatherings and, at an early age when my friends were out having a good time, I was pounding the pavements, knocking on doors and working 16 hours a day to build a business. 

Love what you do

It’s important to find what you love to do because work fills a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is right for you. Also, you need to be the best you can, but most importantly you must love what you do and do what you love.

Passion has given me meaning and has been the driving force that pushed me to achieve no matter what challenges I’ve faced. 

Fortunately, I had the courage to follow my heart and intuition and didn’t let stereotype thinking influence me in any way.

In the early 80s few females had made it to the top of corporate business; I was privileged to have a great mentor in Carol Scott who believed that we could take on the global car rental giants in a highly competitive market. 

Emotional intelligence

To be successful I’ve had to be assertive and act rationally which is not always easy. I’ve learnt that being emotional can be an ineffective way of leading and solving problems.

Being able to listen and to understand the feelings of others has been the most valuable lesson for me as a woman in a very male-dominated environment. Being understanding that is, without allowing sentimental issues to throw me off course.  

Throw away the guilt

As a single mom of an 11-year-old son Daniel, and a business woman, I‘ve had to learn to juggle many balls at once. Sometimes it feels more like throwing hand grenades in the air, and hoping they don’t explode in your face! 

I’ve always tried to expel the feeling of guilt. The essence of being a Jewish mother is almost synonymous with the feeling of guilt. 

In the work environment, I sometimes felt that I wasn’t spending enough time watching my son at his extramurals, or school concerts and always had that perpetual feeling of not giving 110 per cent at work. 

Guilt is counterproductive and I’ve had to make sure that I have a good work-life balance, if such a thing exists. Instead of channelling my energy into feeling guilty, I focus on the quality of time I spend with my son and attending to my business commitments. 

Letting go of the idea of being 100 per cent at all times, is fundamental to achieving the so-called balance.

For me, the work-life debate has never been one or the other, it’s about how to be both, and to be present wherever I am or whatever I’m doing. 

Finding me-time

Soul time for me is vitally important and necessary for inner balance and nourishing the body and mind. Soul time connects me with reality and puts my life into perspective. 

I make sure I indulge and treat myself to activities I enjoy and, when possible, I spend quality me-time on full body massages, regular walks on my own, a good work-out at the gym, meditation, pampering at the spa. Sometime, I just need to sit in silence, thinking and reflecting. These are all ways I deal with stress.    

As a Jewish woman, we always make time for our family, our community and our friends, making time for everyone else often means that we feel guilty about making time for ourselves. 

Me-time is something you should not feel guilty about.


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