A key part of Seabourne Logistics is its South African operation, managed by husband-and-wife team Garry and Ezelle Harris. Garry set up the business from his garage in 2002, with one of the drivers who started out with him still at the company today. After establishing a significant footprint in the automotive industry and other niche sectors such as wine and pharmaceuticals, Garry and Ezelle sold a 70% stake in the business to the Seabourne Group in 2009.
Ahead of Women’s Day on 9 August, HR Director Taryn Le Roux says the fact that Ezelle is at the helm of the business has meant that diversity and inclusion have been part of its DNA ever since. The theme for Women’s Day this year is ‘Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights for an Equal Future’.
Based in Cape Town and overseeing a staff complement of more than 300, including all of the company administration, Taryn has a BCom in HR and has insight into all facets of the business. She highlights that Seabourne Logistics has even made inroads in hiring and training female drivers. “I would say we have been very fortunate in being diverse and inclusive right from the outset. Our success basically lies in bringing together the right skill sets, knowledge, and capabilities, irrespective of gender or any other differences,” adds Taryn.
International Manager Chanéll Theron acknowledges that being a woman in a male-dominated industry is tough. “It takes dedication, hard work, commitment, and a sense to prove yourself to be worthy. I am honoured to be working for Seabourne Logistics. There are only a handful of people who can say they spend time with family while at work.”
This is the key differentiator of the company. “Whether you are a driver, a manager, or an executive, you matter, and we all stand together proudly. We believe in offering that personalised service with a face behind the telephone to all our customers,” highlights Chanéll.
She points out: “We are not shy to get our hands dirty. This industry has taught me that it is not male- or female-driven; it is up to you to grow yourself and choose how fast you want to excel. We welcome growth, we welcome empowering and uplifting women, and we welcome any speed bump coming our way. We stand together and are united, not only locally but also internationally.”
Chanéll’s message to young women is: “Be yourself, your true self. Stay positive and know your worth. You are more than what the world’s expectations believe you to be. You can do it, just believe in yourself. I was told I would never be able to keep up in this industry, that it is too tough for a woman – I accepted this challenged and proved it to be so very wrong!”
National Customer Service Manager Chiara Spolander agrees that being part of the ‘Seabourne family’ has afforded her the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. “We have a passionate team that believes the customer comes first and communication is key. Without the support of my team and colleagues, I would not be where I am today.”
“Be passionate, committed, love the work you do, and it will not seem like a job!” says Chiara. “We spend the majority of our lives in the workplace, so choose your career well and you will prosper.” She adds it is important to surround yourself with likeminded, driven people who support you and have the same goals.
“Work hard and play hard; there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Choices, not chances, determine your destiny. It is up to each of us how we use our talents and training to make a difference not only in the workplace but in the lives of others,” says Chiara.
National Key Accounts Manager Susette Curry agrees that Seabourne Logistics in South Africa has set a precedent in the sector with its strong female representation in senior management roles. “Due to the nature of our industry and its requirements, the more diverse our talent pool, the better it is for our business success.”
Training and skills development is critical to staff retention and loyalty, she adds. “It is an exciting industry that is very rewarding. Due to the fact that it changes constantly means you can certainly make your own mark. What you can achieve is ultimately up to you,” says Susette.
Lee-Ann Roux started out at Seabourne Logistics in 2016 as a Customer Services Agent. “The moment I walked in I felt like I belonged. I was so impressed by the work ethic of my leaders and colleagues. I wanted to give my best and prove myself in this dynamic company.” Within three years her hard work paid off and she was promoted to Customer Services Team Leader.
“You must believe in yourself and have a passion for this industry. Work hard and always go the extra mile. You must be service-driven and know what your clients want.” Lee-Ann adds that being a team leader is about leading by example and putting your team first. “I hope to keep on growing and learn every day. There is always room for improvement.”
Key Accounts Team Leader Xandra Prinsloo says her three-year stint at Seabourne Logistics has changed her as an individual. “I have grown so much in the time I have been here. Being part of the dynamic Seabourne family has been an absolute honour. We have amazing women who lead by example and who we can look up to!” Her advice is to give it your all, go the extra mile, and always believe that you can. “Learn as much as you can from all aspects of the business and from as many people as you can,” she concludes.