In 1996 Jules was a single mom who knew there was a better way to contribute to the growth of the new South Africa in which she had so much faith. Breaking away from the safety of a corporate position, she started as an individual training consultant turning over R100K in her first year. In a short, but eventful, 18 years (2014) Avocado Vision had leap-frogged to an impressive 29 staff members, with a turnover of R25m, and a client list that included the giants of retail, finance and government, among others. Jules had big expansion plans for the organisation and began looking for a suitable company to partner with to bring these plans to fruition. In 2015 Avocado Vision was bought out by the Swedish Based BTS Group, voted one of the Top 20 Sales Training Companies in the world (by www.trainingindustry.com) and Jules stayed on in her role as MD.
Although initially focusing on clients from the corporate environment, since 2008 Jules has expanded her focus to the bottom of the pyramid with a strong emphasis on empowering budding business owners to set up small businesses in their communities, through subsidiary programs in Avocado Vision. In fact by 2013, 75 small businesses had been established with an income that varied from R5K to R15K a month and in the last five years more than 230,000 people have been trained by Avo in conjunction with these small business owners.
Jules’ passion and expertise in people development, interaction and communication, has given her a solid base from which to train the blue-collar workers in environments such as Medupi Power Station. Training sessions on financial literacy, life skills and personal empowerment have gone a long way to establish work force stabilisation, which has a strong impact on community stabilisation in the region. In fact the work with Medupi is starting to be recognised in the industry, as an international benchmark for stabilisation on construction projects.
Jules, through Avocado Vision, provides many community development programmes and the offerings vary from financial literacy, growing gardens (through their Reel Gardens offering) and have even extended into teaching RDP home owners how to turn their homes into income generating businesses. The results of this training are empowering life skills resulting in real, measurable change for people in urban and rural communities nationwide.
As a seasoned public speaker, Jules is a regular on the business speaking circuit and is also a prolific writer for a range of newspapers and magazines. She is known for her engaging style: serious about helping businesses up their game, but playful in her approach. Jules personality creates a relaxed working atmosphere, particularly in the dynamic sessions which she delivers.
Jules’ business success, together with the role she has played in empowerment and her advocacy of women and dedicated involvement in community upliftment, has led to recognition and numerous prestigious awards. She was profiled in the book ‘Inspirational Women at Work’ and received the UNISA School of Business Management’s Emerging Leader of the Year Award in 2006. Avocado Vision was named Top Gender Empowered Company of 2010 by Topco Media in association with The Top Women in Business and Government, and was a finalist in the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year award 2011. More recently, she has been nominated for the exalted 2014 Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards for her role in the sustainable development of the economy.
Quite simply, Jules has never wavered when it comes to purpose: building and delivering training solutions that empower people with skills and insight to make braver choices and live bigger lives. Africa is a tough continent to live in, and Jules is a woman who has the courage to take on the challenges on a scale that has made a significant impact in South Africa and beyond.
Jules, we salute you!