As we start to wrap up our month-long celebration of the Women of Morukuru we sat down with Finance Manger Simoné van der Elst to hear her thoughts on Women's Day and her love of spring in Johannesburg, especially at AtholPlace House & Villa.
What does Women’s Day mean to you, and do you think it is important to commemorate Women’s Month? I do think it is important to commemorate Women’s month to remind us all that other women have paved the way for us to get where we are today. That said, we should always celebrate and acknowledge all women every day. Especially since I am about to become a mother, it is even more clear to me how important women are in their role of bringing up the new generation and showing children a world where everyone has equal rights.
August is Women’s month - and then it is downhill to Spring. What are you most looking forward to with the change of season? How will AtholPlace House & Villa emerge from winter? I love Spring in Johannesburg, especially when all the flowers start to bloom and the trees grow new leaves. It reminds me that sometimes a change is needed in life to survive. At AtholPlace House & Villa there is a beautiful Jacaranda tree. When that’s in season - in October, the drive down to the Villa is breathtaking. That tree creates the perfect outdoor setting - and I look forward to that, especially since during winter, we have all been indoors.
Your job in finance means you are affectionately known as a “bean counter” Did you always want to work with numbers, figures and charts? I always knew that I was good with numbers it makes me feel great when the “books balance”, but finance in hospitality, especially with Morukuru Family, is exciting. You get to use your skills in a working environment which suits my bubbly personality.
What three items are always in your fridge? In the freezer - Ice Cream always! Milk (for tea – I love my tea) and eggs for baking ( I love to bake over the weekends)
You’ve got an hour to kill - where will you spend it at AtholPlace House & Villa - the library/next to the pool or in the garden? By the Villa pool! The garden surrounding the Villa is really beautiful, and I could just sit on a lounge chair and relax.
What’s the best advice another woman gave you? It would definitely be from my Mom. She always used to tell me that if you really want something, don’t ever give up…keep your eyes on the prize. She gave me a strong sense of self-worth. She never gave up on anything … her career or her family life. I always saw my Mom as this wonder Woman.
Morukuru Family is all about connection - can you share any special family traditions your family hold dear? Our family is big in the sense that I am 1 of 4 girls. All my sisters have children. My husband is also 1 of 4 children with many nieces and nephews. When I was a child, Christmas was a family time - everyone got together. Our house was filled with “Christmas spirit”. This is something that has remained important in our family and something I will do with my children.