As a little girl, Jo-Ann Strauss dreamt of ruling the world and being a queen.
Today she is a successful businesswoman, television presenter, former Miss South Africa, spouse and mother of two (three soon) … her childhood dreams have come true to a large extent. “I don’t eat chocolate every day and don’t get fat, even though I dreamt about it as a little girl,” she jokes. But there were many highlights and dreams that were realised.
Serving on boards where she makes a contribution and where she also learns from people whom she looks up to, is a great privilege for her. On the board of Media24, she crossed paths again with Prof Rachel Jafta and on the advisory board of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, with Prof Stan du Plessis. She had class with both as Matie student and never thought she would ever work with them. The importance of building good networks as a student is emphasised by this.
She completed her BCom degree with renewed motivation after one year’s interruption to fulfil her obligations as Miss South Africa. “Being a student was an incredible experience for me. At Stellenbosch I learnt what it meant to sêr, and I’m very glad that I could also experience residence life (in Minerva).” Although today’s students live in an information economy and have many more resources at their disposal, Jo-Ann says that everybody is still responsible for themselves and should not expect a lecturer to make them successful.
“South Africa needs many entrepreneurs, and we shouldn’t all just aim for a big salary but should also think about how we can create opportunities for others.”
Her parents’ interest in and involvement with her as a child and young adult was one of the key components of her success in different fields. “My parents talked to me and found out what excited me – they didn’t just tell me what I should do. I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, but with a lot of love.” A tight-knit family is of great value to her and therefore a very high priority, and she manages her busy schedule so that she has enough time for her family.
“I’m very blessed and grateful for the path I’ve been walking so far, and I’m working hard so that it can continue this way.”
- By Elbie Els -