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Thank you to the 1646 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions! I hope reading 7 Questions with

Janine Potgieter

helps you in your leadership.

Janine Potgieter

Janine Potgieter

Name: Janine Potgieter

Title: Director & CEO of Grace Prep Private School, Executive Director of The Grace Abundance Fund

Organisation: Grace Prep Private School, The Grace Abundance Fund

I am a mother of two adorable angles, a devoted wife and dedicated teacher. I have an honors degree in education and thirteen years’ experience, also currently studying towards my Masters in Business Administration.

As a young girl, I had a dream of starting a school that creates a safe haven for children from all walks of life. In 2020, that dream became a reality. After being approached by many parents and limited education facilities, I decided to establish Grace Prep, a private, self-funded school. Starting out with only three children, within the first year we grew to twenty registered pupils.

As the school grew, so also did the need for expansion. In January 2022, we established Grace Inspired, our special needs department, Grace Foundation, our preschool and Grace Assist, an aftercare facility that aids with homework. In 2022, The Grace Abundance Fund, a scholarship fund was established aiding learners with tuition.

With needs of children are met in a small community that allows for children to be just that, both the IMKA Angling Club as well as the Still Bay Boat Club under the Still Bay Aquatic Association was established this year, which allows for children and parents to partake in water sports and development of children in extra-curricular activities.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

When taking responsibility for others, with more often than not, zero support. You realize that you have to do whatever it takes to grow your company, whilst maintaining a balanced life. Making time for your family and yourself, requires not a hundred percent divided between priorities, but rather one hundred percent in every aspect of your life. Balance is a challenge.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

Knowing at the young age of twelve, I was destined to start a school that supports various aspects of education to children that mainstreams schools cannot. With this dream in mind, always focusing on the end goal, I completed my degree in education. Gaining experience in teaching for 10 years at a main stream school, I could pin point needs and challenges in schools. Becoming a lead-teacher in my field, I furthered my studies in educational management. Starting my own private school and not stopping there. I will never stop learning, which allows for improvement and development. Sharing the dream with staff, and having parents and staff buy-in to the vision. I am privileged to focus on the continuous growth with a team that supports the goal.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Early mornings, allow for me-time focusing on the day and what needs to be done. Prepping for my and my girls day. Once at school, I focusing solely on the task at hand, in my case still teaching senior students as working with our youth will always remain my passion. After work, it is lunch for the family followed by administration and planning for the development of the school. When possible, I make time for the children, which can include a trip to the beach or even just building a puzzle with the girls. After supper, I take a hour for studies (which I do for me). Days are often long and end in late nights, but weekends are planned around resting and family activities.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

The lesson I am focusing on this year is healthy boundaries. Fulfilling various roles such as mother, wife, teacher, leader, business owner, student, friend, etc., with different responsibilities and boundaries. Keeping ones private life separate from work.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Mister God this is Anna, by Fynn. The story of a girl who has come from a harsh background, spending a short while with a family, yet through her profound perspective of life changes the lives of all around her has taught me that every individual that crosses your path, including your employees, all have a story of their own. Getting to know your people on a personal level, allows them to feel comfortable communicating their challenges as well as their successes. Being involved, creates a positive work environment and all role-players are invested. Thus every individual caring their load, allows for productivity and support for one another. by sharing experiences and difficulties, we can understand where each one is coming from, and as a result enjoy improved communication and support.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Keep on keeping on. With a goal in sight, do everything to reach that, even if it means mundane daily tasks. Plan as if the company or organization is already where you want it to be, which means advanced administration, marketing, environment, and planning. This will lead to improved quality in product and service. Believe that it will be and use every opportunity that comes your way. When you fail, learn from that and keep on. In time, it will be.

Surround yourself with people you trust. Never underestimate the power of team-building. Finally, when reaching that end goal, set another and then another. There is no limit to your dream, just keep on.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

After a setback as a teenager a wise friend explained that people are like jars in your pantry called life. Some are filled with a few drops, some are filled in a short amount of time, with a mere greeting or short acquaintance and some are never truly filled. Every person (jar) will be filled with various things which can include hardship. Yet these are necessary for you to become your best self.

When someone leaves your life, for whatever reason or in whatever way, you appreciate their role in you life and place that jar in you pantry. Use the negativity as motivation to prove it can be done. Be the first and learn from others when it already has. Inspire when you manage to achieve what others though could not be done. Accepting when things are out of your control, yet soldiering on when they are, leads to improvement. Realizing that your purpose is bigger than you. You cannot do it alone.

You cannot go through life with an empty pantry. Having support from the people you employ and more often than not, making the hard choices. Letting go of a jar when it is full, because if you hold on to them after full, they will create a mess. Appreciate, accept and learn from everyone you have the privilege of sharing this life with, good or bad.

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