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In the company of strong women: Charissa


In the second instalment of our Women’s Day series we’d like to introduce you to our Chief Operations Officer, Charissa Cousins. Charissa ensures that everything runs smoothly. She’s also responsible for developing strategy and the sourcing of new markets. You’d be hard pressed to find someone more organised and with a better eye for detail than Charissa. Ultimately, she is the glue that holds IBTC together. She makes sure that everything works and that as a team we live our values of remarkable service, growth, relationships and results. Charissa has the amazing ability to dream big but still keep her eye on the ball.

Have a coffee with our COO and get to know this remarkable woman a little better.

1.    What is your role on the management team and at IBTC as a whole?
My role at IBTC is to oversee the business operations and ensure that we are consistently working towards our company goals. I’m here to make sure that our CEO’s vision becomes a reality. I am also responsible for driving our company culture by living our values and leading by example. I ensure that each team member has the resources they need to be successful in their roles.

2.    Not only are you COO, but you’re also a mother of two small children. How do you manage the work / life balance?
As a working mom, the few hours before and after my normal work days are very precious to me and I try make the most of them by really focusing on my kids. Morning snuggles and the evening bedtime routine are precious, and I like to give them my full attention. It helps if I’m organised and have prepped school bags, snack boxes and meals in advance.

I have the support of a great husband who also works full day. We share the household chores and try to give each other alone time with our kids so they feel they are getting quality time with each of us. I’m also very grateful to work for such an understanding organisation that allows me to be both a mom and an integral part of the company. IBTC values relationships and I know that if I nurture my relationships at home, I will be able to give my best at work.

3.    You were already part of the IBTC management team when you made the decision to study CIMA, what influenced your decision and what is the most valuable skill and lesson you learnt while studying?
I started CIMA to get a better understanding of what our students were going through to enable IBTC to deliver better service. The CIMA qualification really appealed to me as I have always been interested in business and how it works.  I have knack for numbers but never wanted to get into finance. CIMA was perfect.

Time management is definitely one of the skills that got me through my studies. Life will always get in the way, but you can’t let it derail you. Set study goals and stick to them. You chose CIMA for a reason, always keep that reason front of mind.

4.    What advice would you give to a young woman who is thinking of furthering her education? Is it worth it?
Absolutely, there is a lot to be said for self-improvement by means of furthering your education. It shows commitment. It shows that you are actively looking to improve yourself and that you believe in yourself to do better and achieve more. This is highly valuable for anyone looking to hire you as it shows what you are going to be like when you join them.

5.    If you had one wish for women in this country, what would it be?
My wish for the women of South Africa – have a clear vision for your life and actively work towards reaching that vision by setting achievable goals which you tackle step-by-step until you get there.