EL women up for top award

Two East London businesswomen have been short-listed for the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year awards at the Sandton Convention Centre later this year.

Michelle-Williams-Swartz

Johnson and Johnson operations director Michelle Williams-Swartz and Mercedes-Benz finance senior manager Taryn Woodbridge were announced yesterday as among the 13 women who made the cut for the awards.

The awards by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (Bwasa) are in their 37th year and recognise South African women who excel in various sectors of the economy and lead with integrity and humility.

Williams-Swartz and Woodbridge will battle it out with two other women in the corporate category for the coveted Businesswoman of the Year crown.

Woodbridge said she was honoured to have made the cut.

“I am so proud to fly the flag for East London and MBSA and truly thankful to the person who nominated me, to my team because I would not be where I am without them and to my colleagues and mentors for all their support on my journey.

“A special thank you to my family for their neverending encouragement and support.

“A big thank you to the BWA as well for this platform.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to be able to inspire and encourage other young women to have big dreams to be whatever they want to be in life.

“Nothing is impossible,” she said last night.

Taryn-Woodbridge

Williams-Swartz was equally delighted at being a finalist.

“This recognition is truly a celebration of courage, a testimony that you are not defined by your background or circumstances, but that every challenge you face moulds you for your destiny.

“The recognition is an acknowledgement of everyone who has had an input in my life – my strong mother, my amazing husband, mentors, colleagues and my talented teams,” she said.

“I am excited about the opportunity to make an impactful contribution to the BWA locally and nationally and supporting their vision of creating a platform to inspire and empower other women.”

Other categories include education, entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.

The winners will be announced at a gala event on September 7 in Johannesburg.

Bwasa president Farzanah Mall said the theme for this year’s event was “Women with no Filter – Celebrating leaders who honour themselves and others”.

“It is important for us to celebrate leaders who lead with integrity, truth, excellence and wisdom and who can acknowledge their successes as well as their development areas.

“We chose this theme because in South Africa and globally, we have a geopolitical and economic recession resulting from a shortage of great leaders.

“We require leaders who do not focus purely on personal wealth creation but rather on being the best they can be, and on utilising their knowledge, capabilities and experience to impact not only their businesses but equally on their family, community and country,” Mall said.

Williams-Swartz sits on the South African Management Board and is a member of the Border Kei Chamber of Business.

She was recently invited to sit on the St Bernard’s Hospice Board.

Woodbridge joined MBSA in 2004 and sits on the committee of the Angel Outreach initiative, engaging with children from various children’s homes.

At MBSA she spearheads the Women’s Forum and employee volunteer initiatives.

She has a masters degree in taxation from Rhodes University. — malibongwed@dispatch.co.za

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