Rugby Commentator and Businesswoman
Dawn Dunn has worn many caps over the years and is a powerhouse of a businesswoman. She is a well-known and loved rugby personality who over the last eight years has interacted with many of the rugby fraternity. Her technical knowledge, together with her eclectic, vivacious nature brings a fresh take on the rugby commentator.
In addition, Dawn has successfully run events, marketing campaigns and a PR business since 2003 and is responsible for innovative events around South Africa. With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, she has diversified into the online space proving that there are always opportunities in any situation. Consequently, Dawn has branched into broadcasting, webinars, photography, and story writing.
An incredible story
Dawn’s story is an incredible one. She is a previously disadvantaged black female who grew up during apartheid in a township. “We only got electricity when I was eight years old, and I didn’t have to read by candlelight any more. I only found out that toilets weren’t outside in a long drop, when we got a ‘proper’ house. I didn’t know that we were deprived in any way because I was a happy child.”
Significantly, the support of her family has ensured she has not allowed herself to be limited in her career choices. Dawn explains, “I do think that your childhood plays a big part in your person, in your personality and in your strengths. I have always been a bit of a round in a square or a square in a round and I really had a lot of support from my father and a bit later assistance from my sister and the rest of the family. I was always that girl who did things differently. Having the family’s acceptance and acknowledgement, even though half the time they didn’t know what I was talking about was really wonderful. I think that came through especially when I was a bit older, and I was challenging the norms. It was really wonderful to have that background, that grounding and that certainty of self.”
Dawn commented that she has always found business to be easy especially as she has worked with incredible people who have had vision. “We have been able to work together to really produce beautiful work that has inspired me.”
On the rugby side, Dawn has found the challenges to be more multi-layered. Men found having a female voice in a male dominated environment very challenging. She explains that there was a bit of controlling involved as far as that was concerned and which she does not do well, so she pushed back. “I haven’t grown up with rugby or business in my life, so I believe that you can break the mould. I think that it is important not to judge the person by the outer cover. A lot of people thought I was blond with big boobs,” she explains.
Finding your voice
“For me the biggest challenge was that at some point I did lose my voice and when you are surrounded by quite a bit of negativity, especially by the boys you love, you do tend to retreat. I think that it is important to every day reconnect with who you are. Reconnect with what is it that you want to do and sometimes it means removing yourself from the situation, finding the quiet place inside you so that you can be authentic again, be strong again, and find your voice again.”
It is not uncommon for women in business to be challenged on the business level and for them to lose their voices because they are trying to be flexible and trying to adjust to the demands of the situation. Dawn feels that her one piece of advice to other women would be to find your voice. “And if you do lose your voice because you will; life happens – it is important to go back to your default button and start again. Be kind to yourself, it’s important to always find that happy voice inside you that makes you joyful and makes you want to get up and do what you love. If you’re connected with your inner voice, you will be fine. Trust that voice more.”
Dawn says that turning fifty this year has been amazing for her. Her birthday has given her clarity of vision, which has caused her to shift her goals slightly and she has fresh energy. One of her recent projects is her ongoing podcasts with co-host Lauren Terras, which feature the achievements of women in sports.
She explains, “I want to focus a lot more on story telling with women in sport. I really find them completely inspirational. For me doing the podcasts around the Olympians, focusing on ladies in sport was a game changer because the story telling involved, inspired and energised me and created a beautiful new baby.”
In addition, Dawn would like to travel a lot more in sport and be able to tell the stories of the Olympians and of our ‘beautiful’ Springbok players. She added that the initiative is about making us as South Africans remember just how incredible we are, as well as bridging the gap between the sportsperson and the public.
Dawn would also like to see women in business supporting each other more for business execution on all levels. She concludes, “Let’s look at changing the narrative from a gender-based violence perspective, from a business perspective and from a women’s perspective. I do hope that in my way I can inspire little girls to dream bigger, to want more and to try and get more.”