Lesinda du Toit

Head of Marketing and Business Development @ IELS Malta | Malta

Time to read: 10 minutes

How did you start out?

Many years ago I was a waitress, my parents couldn't afford to send me to university, in South Africa it's not free, so, I went straight into the workforce. I actually started working when I was 16 to earn my own pocket money.
I didn't want to be a waitress so, I spent every day learning from those around me, taking everything in and employing them in everything I did. I was promoted to assistant manager and I will never look back. This is where I learned my work ethic and that you should do the best you can in everything you do, it's the only way.
I always wanted to be more than a number, not just settle down with my lot. I wanted to get everything I thought I couldn't have and it became my inspiration. My mom is my hero but I always felt she deserved so much more than she had and I was going to make us both proud.

What helped you get as far as you have?

Determination and a good attitude. I was also very lucky to work with amazing people that taught me the value of me and how bright my future could be, I never felt anyone owed me anything and I still don't. I believe that you should do your best regardless of what you are doing whether you are a waitress, intern or CEO, we all are vital in the chain. I also believe that treating people with respect no matter who they are helps you along in life. I do feel very lucky and blessed.

If you could give one piece of advice to your 21 year old self, what would it be?

Stop doubting yourself just go for it, and you don't need to take sh*t from anyone.

Can you tell us about a particular low point in your life/and or career and how you overcame it?

I was doing two jobs, office work by day and waitress at night. Had a dead beat boyfriend at home not working, I had no money. My day job boss was trying to kiss me all the time ( yes you read right), cornering me in the warehouse, getting excuses to get me alone and I hated every second of it.
I just kept working hard, stayed positive and learned. I learned systems, customer service, whatever I could. I started studying, doing courses in accounting and Microsoft office, I studied psychology part-time and counselling skills to understand people better.
At the restaurant, I was working the hardest I could, showing that I can take on more responsibilities. Eventually, they made me assistant manager and now I managed the accommodation, restaurant and planned weddings. Finally, I could leave the office job.
Leaving all of that behind me was definitely one of the best moments of my life. It taught me that out of everything negative something good can happen if you tackle it the right way. (By the way, dead beta boyfriend soon followed suit)

How would you describe yourself in one word?

I can't.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

There are a few things, Lead5050 is one of them. Being in a tribe with so many amazing women and knowing that they think you belong is pretty great.
I'm proud of the girls and young women that work/worked for me whom I have inspired.
Where I find myself in my career at present. I studied and worked many evenings and weekends for a long time, in a language I wasn't comfortable with to be where I am.

How old were you when you had your first paying job, and what was it?

16. I worked in the men's department of a clothing store. They asked me where I would like to work. I said, 'it makes sense to put a female in the men's department; since men would take it more seriously, when we tell them they look!'

What do you do to keep yourself centered?

I never make a point of it; but I spend a lot of time talking to people I respect and love, I love to chat.
I enjoy helping people with my knowledge. I also like to study and learn new skills, it's kind of my hobby (husband thinks I'm crazy).
It keeps me grounded knowing there is so much I don't know and can learn.

What is your favourite quote?

At the moment it is:
Not what we have but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance. (because I am feeling grateful) - Epicuris

What would your superpower be?

Mind reading and manipulation, like Xavier and Jean Grey in Xmen. I would like to do some work on the villains in this world! But then changing the weather would be so cool!

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