Following International Women's day our Member of the Week is one very inspirational lady in all walks of life - Michelle Taylor of Invona.
Hello Michelle! First things first, let's talk work - can you describe to us a little about your role at Invona?I am the operations and customer success manager so in easy terms I help bridge the gap between tech talk and business talk. It mainly involves looking after our customers and managing their expectations and at the same time helping the IT industry understand what the customers need. I help Daniel support the customers by understanding what it is they’re looking for.
So before your time at Invona you helped set up a charity for abandoned children in South Africa. Can you tell us a bit about the ethos and aims of this charity?
So the charity started in 2014 and the visionary behind it is my friend and colleague Charmaine. She has an educational background and I came from a business background. We collaborated because I had more of an understanding of the business side of the organisation and how we could link the charity to big businesses. We were completely privately funded and we launched the business together. Our aim was to rescue, rehabilitate and restore children. And then release them, either back to their families or the next stage of their lives. The idea is to support them with love. The care is tailored to each child; we had one caregiver for every two children. Some of the kids were really traumatised or had medical issues and needed very specific individual care.
Essentially our aim was to catch the children that are being dropped by the government or their families, to provide a safety net for them.
So you also have a background in counselling, what was your motivation for going into this line of work?
So I really love people and I really love helping people; counselling started with wanting to help people. I wanted to have the tools that I needed to be able to care for people in a deeper way and counselling felt like a good direction. It led me to study psychology, which I also find fascinating.
What is the thing you miss the most about your home country South Africa?
Definitely my family; having my family down the road. And also the sun.
Who is your hero?
Mabel Fielding. She was my grandmother. She fought for what she loved even when it was contrary to what was happening at the time. Her housekeeper became part of the family, this was during the apartheid when to make the housekeeper part of the family was very rare. It taught me to fight for what I believe in. She was always gentle, kind and strong. I didn’t know my grandmother past my 6th birthday but that meant that the housekeeper became like a surrogate grandmother. Your create your own family.
Would you rather be able to fly or hold your breath under water?
Fly. I’ve already practised holding my breath but I’ve certainly never practised flying. I’d give that a try.
What is something that makes you irrationally angry?
Probably buying coffee and then it ends up being absolutely horrid. If it’s burnt I do get irrationally mad.
What do you feel is the most unique aspect of having your office at PLATF9RM?
There are many unique aspects. The biggest reason, which is such a game changer, is that it is not a workplace it’s a community. I’ve never seen something else like it!
What is your happiest memory?This goes back to my time at the charity. We had a baby boy who was really starved of love. He didn’t know what love looked like. My happiest memory was the day that that changed for him and he chose to let us love him. He came to me and he curled up in my arms and I knew that something in him had changed. Love is such a powerful thing.
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