JEANINE TOPPING says her purpose in business is to grow people, and she drives this through two different companies.
Firstly, Jeanine owns JT&A, a SETA Accreditation business that serves clients in the training industry. “We help our clients grow their businesses and thrive,” says Jeanine. “Through our coaching and mentoring programmes, we help them achieve accreditation and once they have this, they have a licence to train and award SAQA points for their courses. This means they’re more competitive than non-accredited training programmes, and more likely to get funding for their businesses.”
Secondly, Jeanine is a director of Wealth and Progress Training. She explains: “Through Wealth and Progress Training, we empower people with various leadership and entrepreneurial programmes. We work with both employed and unemployed people to help them realise their potential.”
Jeanine’s passion in this company is facilitating the Flip The Switch course, which involves her helping groups find their Inner Cheerleader. Jeanine is a qualified Rapid Transformation Therapist (RTT) and helps corporates with their Employee Assistance Programme through running this course and conducting one on one RTT Sessions.
INSPIRED BY HER COACHES
A firm believer in coaching, Jeanine has worked with two business coaches over the years and gives them credit for helping her build her business. “Marlene my most recent business coach taught me tenacity. She helped me see that when things go wrong, which they inevitably do, you can’t go down the rabbit hole. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, and deal with the issues step by step.” Jeanine points out that her training as an RTT Therapist has played a huge role in having a calming and supportive influence, which has helped her deal with the very real challenges presented by the pandemic.
PIVOTING TO MEET CHALLENGES
Jeanine counts surviving Covid and still being in business and keeping six people fully employed throughout as her major achievements. “Lockdown was a rollercoaster,” she says. “We’ve had to pivot, adapt, and make big changes time and time again. We moved offices four times over the last three years.” This was disruptive and time consuming, but JT&A is now settled in our bright new offices in Pinetown.”
Unsurprisingly in a people business, staff issues have also been a challenge over the past few years. Jeanine points out that every person has been facing their own challenges, even in the aftermath of Covid. “It’s not enough to discipline staff who aren’t delivering, you have to find out the reasons why, and see what you can do to help them achieve their targets by way of counselling and support them, often on a personal level. Over the years I’ve learnt that if I take this approach, I see the benefits – for my staff members, our team, and the whole organisation.”
But while things have settled in some ways, the challenges continue. There have been substantial changes in the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) accreditation sector, including the introduction of accreditation with QCTO instead of the 21 SETAs, and there are new processes and systems. Jeanine and her team need to continually adapt.
New skills programmes have also been introduced into South Africa, and new curricula from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), and JT&A must get to grips with all this change. “We have to know about all the new SAQA programmes and their curricula so we can support our clients,” says Jeanine. Typically, however, she focuses on the positive. “With all this change comes new opportunities,” she points out. “There are some amazing new qualifications, and our clients need us to guide them through and help them adapt, formulate their training programmes, and get them accredited. There’s so much we can do to help.”
GROWTH IN 2023
Jeanine has big plans for 2023 for JT&A and is launching a recruitment division. “We’re very excited about this because there’s a real need among our existing client base for good training administrative staff.”
There are also opportunities for Wealth and Progress Training. The company currently offers a Trainers and Developers Practitioner Qualification, and Jeanine sees great potential for growth here. The company is about to introduce a new initiative whereby they actively recruit unemployed people with a background in training administration and source funding to train them in this practitioner qualification. This will grow the Wealth and Progress Training business while providing the industry with much needed training and development co-ordinators. Jeanine points out that their JT&A clients also need these skills in their businesses, so this initiative also dovetails seamlessly with the JT&A recruitment division.
Asked to share her wisdom with up-and-coming businesswomen, Jeanine is specific. “To succeed you need to believe in yourself, your goals and your passion and don’t listen to people who tell you, you can’t do it.” She also points out that you can’t always rely on advice. “Be careful who you listen to. Are they qualified to give you advice? If they aren’t successful themselves, can you trust what they have to tell you?”
Jeanine and her partner Trevor – my BFF – share six adult children between the ages of 28 and 42, so she’s probably as well qualified to advise you on family matters as she is on business growth! “We also have a new miniature Maltese poodle who has captured my heart,” says Jeanine. “And Trevor and I love to travel. We’ve just been to Mauritius and before that it was a 10-day trip to the Cape. Of course, we had to juggle work to cope, but I have an amazing team to keep the business running while I’m away.”
“If you’re running a business, and it has survived the last three years, you’re a winner. And in terms of KZN Top Business Women, I’d like to wish all the participants the very best. Everyone in this group is a winner.”