When I’m asked to introduce myself, I usually leave out the gritty bits, and just roll out the pretty stuff. But without the hard parts, I wouldn’t be running my own business today.
My roots are in education
My mom was a talented salesperson. Having married into the surname House, she proceeded to sell houses as a successful estate agent! She was also a storyteller and writer, larger than life. I get my creative, strategic side from her.
Dad was a scientist, goal-driven and passionate about quality processes. I recall many occasions of sitting at the dining room table after dinner and being asked by my father: What are your goals? He gave me my analytical brain.
So when I chose to study as a teacher, they were a little disappointed (no Bachelor of Science for me!) but they supported me. They sacrificed a lot for my sister and I to get a good tertiary education.
Most of my early growth was in corporate
Four years later, I ended up in the manufacturing industry when the teaching posts nearby weren’t available.
In those days, you were allocated a position in a government school, and choices were slim as an inexperienced new teacher in Home Economics. With my food and clothing qualifications, I joined SA Clothing Industries (SACI), a large clothing company in Durban. SACI was a part of the Seardel Group, the largest textile and clothing company in South Africa at the time. My first job was a sales co-ordinator in ladies fashion, working with retailers, designers and production staff to ensure orders were produced and delivered on time. Those years were a great foundation for my career.
Personal trauma of an early divorce made me throw myself into my job. I worked my way up into a management position and started management studies. That led to an MBA and a big career move to Johannesburg corporate life, consulting in business and marketing strategy.
During the corporate years, I learnt from some of the best – valuable strategic marketing models and principles I am still using today in consulting. I was also fortunate to work across many different industry sectors, experience which would be of huge value later on. Then I went on to investment marketing and leadership positions with some stressful career and personal challenges, which made me wonder if it was time for a change!
By the way, I had also played a role for many years in the leadership of Toastmasters Southern Africa, the largest non-profit public speaking organisation in the world. Toastmasters taught me valuable skills that I have applied in my professional and personal life. But the added leadership pressure did not help my stress levels.
The fruits are in the unique combination
Just as my parents’ health was failing, I hit burnout and decided to return to my home province of KZN. And I decided to give teaching a try – my original professional qualification.
The contrast between the boardroom and the classroom hit me hard! But I flourished in the environment of non-profit schooling. A seed was planted, and I decided to grow this area. I’m forever grateful to the heads of schools who offered me that step.
School marketing roles followed, and the opportunity to publish a book with ISASA, the Independent School Marketing Association of Southern Africa.
After 5 years of school marketing, I was receiving enquiries to consult independently, and the rest is history!
Houseway Consulting (Pty) Ltd is named in honour of my late parents, Wendy and Dudley House, as it’s their legacy that inspires me daily.
What I do today certainly wouldn’t have happened without their contribution!
If you are a head of school or involved in school marketing and admissions, contact me for help on market research and marketing strategy for your school. I have three products: online consulting, workshops and project consulting. Prices and packages are on my website. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm Keryn House
I enjoy creating marketing anecdotes and visuals related to my horse as there is a lot to be learned from animals, and this provides a unique context to my writing. My horse Slick (aka Sports Express) has been with me for many years and is a source of inspiration and relaxation for my strategic mind. He lives on a friend’s farm in KZN and I see him twice a week.
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