Venus Crowley is one of the success stories at Tikketai, a wholesale provider of broccoli and cauliflower all year round. She has been working her way up the ranks and was recently appointed as Production Manager at Tikketai.
She started as a packer at Tikketai at the age of 26 on 15 April 1996, 26 years ago. Fellow employees describe her as one of the antiques at Tikketai – but nothing about her is old and rigid. She grew up in George in a family where each of her parents and grandparents had nearly three decades of service at one company. “They set the example of holding on to your job, appreciating what you have, and growing where you are planted to bring forward the best in yourself”, she tells.
With hard work, dedication, and through the guidance of good mentors in her workplace, she has grown into being responsible for receiving, preparing, packing, and dispatching all orders whilst guaranteeing first-grade quality.
“It feels like yesterday when I saw the advertisement for packers in the local newspaper. My second child was only 3 months old when I came for the interview and got the job. Little did I know that Tikketai will offer me the opportunity to develop and grow into who I am today”, she explains.
The role of mentors in her success
Venus speaks with a lot of regard for her mentors at Tikketai. “We all started here when Tikketai was founded and we had to learn from each other”, she tells. Brett Ellis appointed her and although he did not know her, he could see her potential and pushed her to be a better version of herself. “He transferred his knowledge to me and allowed me to learn, grow, and experience”, she adds.
Heiner Kunzman taught her most of what she knows about human resources. “He was a strict, right-or-wrong tough manager to work under. His example and guidance equipped me to deal with people in the workplace. He had the habit of throwing me into the deep side which was hard but with good intention, he fast-tracked my growth.” My appreciation for his role in my career increases every day as I realise how much he instilled in me”, she tells.
Stephan Gericke established the culture of compassion at Tikketai according to Venus. “He taught me to give without expecting anything back. He lived the value of really caring for each staff member and their families and is always there if one needs advice. That is why they still have not mechanized the production floor, as they would rather create the jobs to provide for the families of these employees”. He transferred this ethos to his son Burger who is now the Chief Executive Officer of Tikketai, she states.
I worked with Willie du Toit for 23 years. He was like a beacon of advice and help – even outside of the workplace. He taught me to be there for your colleagues when they need advice or help – almost like a caring parent.
“These four mentors gave me such a great chance to become a better version of myself that I always attempted to do things in such a manner that they could be proud”, she says.
The toughest things
She explains, “Each manager has his or her own expectations and management style. It was important for me to adapt to this as I wanted to feel that my managers were satisfied with my outputs.
It is one of the tricky things in a workplace to adapt to the different management styles but in hindsight, it is exactly this that strengthens you and skills you to work with all kinds of people.”
Her greatest lessons
The first bit of advice from her is to choose your employer and working environment wisely. “You spend more time at work than at home and you communicate more with your colleagues than your family. It should be an environment where you can ask for advice or even help to influence your decision positively. The people you work with should be like your family and share your values so that you want to return every day, she states.
Her second tip is to never be scared to take on a challenge and never give up on conquering it. She cautions, “Don’t hide behind a lack of qualifications or skills as this does not reflect your abilities. It is within your ability to learn any job if you are eager enough to master it.”
A lot is built on trust in the workplace. It creates the will to be thorough in your work without making mistakes but at the same time it allows for mistakes to learn how to do things better next time
Her advice to others
Venus says that she feeds on challenges. She loves learning new things and moving on to different tasks and activities. The big thing to her is to grab an opportunity when it comes along and make the most of it. “If your managers and supervisors see that you want to learn and that you take responsibility and accountability, they tend to give you new challenges and a chance to develop your skills, increase your level of responsibilities and show them that they can trust you with it”, she advises.
She adds that one learns a lot from your mentors in the workplace and it is important to pay this forward. “The fact that Mr. Gericke was willing to always listen, guide, and give sound advice taught me to also encourage my fellow staff members to approach me for advice.”
“If I had to choose all over again, I would choose Tikketai again. It is a fantastic place to work where you feel part of a family and people who is concerned about your wellbeing,” she concludes.