“At this start of this year, I decided that if I always wait for the right moment, it might never come …”
So says Liebie du Plessis, of the Fulcrum Brand and Marketing team, of her 2017. It’s a year in which she’s pushed herself to the limit, both professionally and personally – and come out on top.
“Twenty-seventeen has been quite a busy year!” she declares with not a little understatement. “I completed my Brand and Marketing studies at Vega (with an average mark of 87%), took part in the IIG Class of 2017 programme, and was involved in some charity projects. Of course, this was while working full-time as part of the Fulcrum Brand and Marketing team.
“In between I still did regular Crossfit training, a few personal art projects, travelled in South Africa and, most importantly, squeezed in family time with my two favourite people: my husband and two-year-old son.”
For Liebie, 2017 was going to be “a bit of a study year” and she enrolled for her course at the Vega School. But the Class of 2017, offered by the Insurance Institute of Gauteng (IIG), also beckoned …
“Clodagh [da Paixao, Liebie’s manager] and I briefly discussed the option of me entering the Class, and on the spur of the moment I decided, ‘Why not?’ If this is supposed to be my academic year, I can just as well throw all my heart into it. It was only when I had to write my own motivation that I fully realised what an impact it would have.
“I absolutely loved that there is a charity aspect to the Class of initiative, as I am very passionate about several charity projects, and am always keen to get involved. And of course, the academic aspect as well as personal development really appealed to me, seeing this as the year to improve myself,” Liebie says.
“I did not at the time think that I would be accepted into both programmes. Even though Clodagh knew at the start of the year that these courses would take up a lot of time and energy, she encouraged me and supported me throughout (of course, with the fine print that, if I wanted to do both, I was not allowed to let any of my other juggling balls drop).”
Liebie’s Class of 2017 experience was, um, busy, involving academic studies, personal and leadership skills development, networking and social interaction, and charity: the class had to fundraise for, and build, houses for the less privileged through amor.org.
“Yes, I did learn a lot academically, and yes, business etiquette and EQ were important. But learning how to work with strangers and apply all the theory, and then walk out with lifelong friends, is much more valuable than anything I could have ever been taught in a classroom.
“We’ll always have this shared experience, the memories of how we contributed to Amor, attending classes, studying, dressing up or working at events … and when we run into each other at future events, we’ll feel right at home. Because we turned into a little Class of 2017 family,” says Liebie of her Class of 2017 experience.
And all the hard work paid off. On top of her academic success at Vega, Liebie was also named the top student in the Class of 2017, before more than 1 000 of her peers at the recent IIG annual dinner.
“It is a huge honour. And an amazing end to a very hard year – to be able to say this was a successful year, and have something to show for all the hard work, really made it worth it. Of course, it really helps that I had my family and work teams backing me all the way while I was studying. I really wanted to do them proud, and show them that cheering me on was worth it,” says Liebie.
“Having a team of 50-odd Fulcrum team members, including my manager, Clodagh, and my husband, at the annual IIG gala when the announcement was made was indescribable. The team went ballistic! And as much as you dream about winning, it was not something I wanted to put my heart on. So, ‘shell-shocked’ was an understatement. I felt extremely loved and supported, and slightly flabbergasted that so many people would be enthusiastic and this happy for me!”
So what’s next for Liebie? Perhaps surprisingly, even she needs a little down time before again working up a head of steam for 2018. And because giving back is very important to Liebie, charity work remains part of the mix.
“For the moment, I look forward to taking some time off over the holiday season and spending it with family before then tackling 2018 head-on, applying all that I have learned in my respective courses in my position at Fulcrum, as well as other industry-related initiatives in general. I am also involved in more projects with Amor in the coming year, and volunteering for Santa Shoebox (an ongoing charity project close to my heart),” she says.