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Women’s Day with women who have transformed the fashion industry: behind-the-scenes – Part 1

Women of South Africa Bata Women’s Day

Women’s Day with women who have transformed the fashion industry: behind-the-scenes – Part 1

Women’s Day is a day that is celebrated by the Bata team, every day! To the women who have transformed the fashion industry, we salute you!

We interviewed a key member of the Bata team to find out more about what happens behind-the-scenes while the dynamic giant is in operation. It’s awe-inspiring to hear how incredibly resilient women in the fashion industry are.

Read the full interview below to find out more about, Keshni: our PA to the financial director of Bata.

Bata: Tell us more about yourself.

Keshni: I’m a fulltime working mom and the PA to the finance director of Bata. Juggling between family life and work is not easy, but the strength of a woman always helps you to balance it all. It’s a blessing to have kids that really add a whole other dimension of purpose to your life. Ultimately, everything I do and how well I do it, is for them.

Bata: How do you balance your work life? Give us a typical day in Keshni’s world.

Keshni: Basically, my day is filled with things I need to do for my kids. My eldest is going to be 9 next month. The second is 7 and the twins are 5.

Bata: Oh gosh! You have twins?!

Keshni: YES! I have twins. The intention was to only have 3 kids with the age gap of two years, which we got right. It’s just that we were blessed with a fourth one.

Bata and Keshni: *laughs*

Keshni: It’s only my mom and I now and it’s actually built up our family unit.

Bata: Yes…

Keshni: The kids go to aftercare, which helps quite a bit. However, the prep-work for each day consists of making sure that lunches are packed and ready and each of my children have snacks and food that I know they will enjoy. I’m that mom. I don’t want anyone coming home hungry! *laughs* They also have extra murals and there’s a lot that has to be considered for that too. The morning rush is the biggest rush!

Bata: It sounds hectic!

Keshni: Afternoons aren’t as rushed because I’m more laid back in the sense that… I fetch my children before 5 pm. But, that also means that they’re coming back from a long day – longer than normal. They can be a little tired and cranky at times since they get dropped off at 7 am in the morning. The evening shift is about settling down and unwinding. Getting all the homework and prep for the next day started. Dinner, family time, bath and bed.

I couldn’t do this without the help of my mother. She is my pillar of strength a lot of the time, and I have to say, no one should ever feel like they can’t ask for help. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It also frees you up a bit to focus some of your energy on your greater goals.

Bata: Is Bata quite far and flexible? We’re sure that your little ones have been sick before…

Keshni: When I first started at Bata, it was in 2017. I used to do the school run where I used to fetch my kids during the day before I put them into aftercare. My manager was very flexible with time. We had an agreement where I would fetch my kids from school, or if I had to rush off, not at one point was I told “No” and I didn’t feel that I couldn’t confront and ask, or rather say, “I’m going”, there was never an issue when it came to that, which helped a lot with the workload. Support is the biggest thing in any parent’s life. Especially when everything is as fast-paced and demanding as what it is today.

Bata: Of course!

Keshni: It’s a constant juggle between business, family, and working. But, I enjoy how it keeps me on my toes. I’m always busy in a meaningful way that serves a greater purpose. My kids also get to see me as a functional being in society, working hard for what I have, and I trust that they will adopt the same.

Bata: Ja! Absolutely! That’s important.

Keshni: To be honest with you, this is one of the best companies to work for. I’ve grown from being a PA, to being taught financials and budgeting. I do a lot more finance work than just being a PA. I get the opportunity to challenge and grow myself, which is priceless!

Bata: How would you describe your relationship with Benson as his PA?

Keshni: Ummm…

Bata: *laughs*

Keshni: He is very honest! He’s straight-forward. He will tell you as it is.

Bata: Yeah…

Keshni: Everyone is capable of thinking they know everything there is to know about certain things – or they don’t “need” unsolicited advice and they are afraid to step out of their comfort zones. But if you just listen carefully, you’ll always find there is something that you take from everyone that you can add to what you do know, that will grow you. And, I feel it’s rewarding being afforded the opportunity to listen to what the next person has to say because, we sometimes take it for granted. It’s nice to learn from others.

Bata: Do you have daughters?

Keshni: I have two girls and two boys.

Bata: In terms of your daughters, raising them up, do you feel you would raise them up to be independent women?

Keshni: In the Indian culture, you will find that parents don’t allow kids to do a lot of things. We keep them wrapped up. But, with us specifically – my kids know that because there’s so many of them, we have had to develop a very good understanding between us all.

In the morning, we wake up and we make our own beds. We bath ourselves and in the afternoons when they do come back from school and they’re really filthy from aftercare, I will then scrub them down. They’re still kids, and I believe that it’s important for children to learn to trust their own intuition and be guided by that. Learning to listen to your gut and going with that, you know? But, in the same breath, they trust me and know that I am there to support them. So, they will lean on me in times of need.

Bata: Of course…

Keshni: In the morning’s they know they’ve got to get up and get ready. They know where their clothes are and they know that they need to take out their aftercare clothes – everything on their own. I became very independent when I had to leave home and I lived overseas for a few years. It was a culture shock for me. But, now I see the value in it. It taught me to lean on myself and trust myself – and I am so much stronger as a woman for it. I pushed my own boundaries and now I believe in myself and I know I’m capable of so much more.

Bata: Times are changing! Women these days are all strong-willed.

Keshni: Yes… *laughs*

Because of the old Indian orthodox, women are not expected to work or to be aspirational about their careers. Like, women must stay at home and cook and be caregivers to their families, whereas nowadays, being independent and being able to depend on yourself for your own needs is liberating and building your own life doesn’t mean that you can’t share that life with others and accept help from time to time.

Bata: Love it! That’s quite an important message, actually…

Keshni: I feel it’s such a good thing, where it takes two to tango at any given point with anything. Eventually, people will learn that it is normal.
Bata: Agreed!

Bata: Cool! Is there anything else you would like to add about Women’s Day in general?

Keshni: A word of advice to women out there this women’s day, don’t ever feel that you should be down and out. There should never be a down moment. Yes, there’s always up and downs, but remember, it’s better to stay up! It all depends on yourself – not on the next person.

Nothing anyone tells you should actually bother you because that’s their own opinion. Everyone has a right to an opinion but it doesn’t define you. It is the power of the mind and you also need to learn that. Believe in everything you want to do and it will happen eventually.

We thoroughly enjoyed listening to Keshni’s story and taking empowering advice for women from her this Women’s Day. We hope you enjoyed it too! Go out there and conquer, fabulous women!

Visit the Bata news page for more inspiring interviews this women’s day.

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