As the daughter of a reverend, Karien grew up in a household filled with love. Her home was always open to anyone from her father’s congregation and she and her brother learnt the value of helping others from a young age.
She also learnt the value of setting goals and sticking to them, a habit that has shaped her entire career. “I studied a chartered accounting degree at UJ,” Karien explains. “I was on a bursary and it was important to me to not only do well but secure a good position to do my articles once I graduated as well.”
This dedication and focus ensured that Karien was on the Dean’s list and that she always passed with distinctions. She also landed a job at PwC to do her articles and has followed a carefully designed career path ever since hitting each goal she has set along the way.
“I’ve always followed a plan,” she explains. “I break my goals down into long-term goals and the short-term goals that will help me achieve them. Every small step is important. They keep you focused and on track.”
Karien has been a single mother for 13 years, raising her 14-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter alone since they were toddlers and her discipline has served her well.
“It’s something I am extremely passionate about today,” she explains. “The best advice I can offer any young women today is to ensure she is self-sufficient. You never know what the future holds, so make sure you have a proper qualification and that you can stand on your own two feet and take care of your family.”
1. Everything worth having is worth working for. You have to work hard if you want to achieve anything worthwhile in life. Set goals and map out the smaller steps that will help you achieve them. It’s the small, continuous steps and ongoing effort – even in the face of adversity – that will get you there.
2. Contribute to your community. It’s important to set an example for our children and the people we engage with every day. Each of us has the opportunity to contribute to our communities, take the lead in supporting those around us and making the world a better place. For youngsters especially, there are so many ways to think out the box and solve deeply engrained problems – you just need to choose to get involved.
3. Empower and find value in yourself. I married young and only realized much later that I suffered emotional abuse for years. I was entirely emotionally dependent on someone and it was devastating. Being alone – and needing to take care of my children – taught me to value myself. No one else should make you feel worthy. It should come from within. Love yourself and find what you need to feed your confidence and you will have the tools you need to turn any negative situation positive.
4. Implement work-life balance – and stick to it. When I was a youngster, I struggled to have any balance in my life, working 14-hour days to the point where it impacted my physical and mental health. I ended up suffering from burnout depression for eight months. The experience taught me the importance of boundaries. You can be excellent at your job and still have time for yourself and your family. In fact, personal time is energizing, which you take back to the workplace as well.
5. Have structure in your life. Work-life balance is possible for me because I’m structured. I have a personal and work diary, which ensures that I’m always present in whatever it is I’m doing in that moment. I can block out focus time and I’m always on top of deadlines, which naturally improves stress levels.
6. Stay humble. Each of us can add value to the world and the people around us. My goal is to leave a lasting positive impression on every person I meet. I want them to feel energized and excited by life because of our interaction.