A conversation with our COO Anna Groenewald

In honour of National Women’s Day, we spoke to our fearless leader, COO Anna Groenewald, about what it is like to be a woman in tech and about where she draws her inspiration.

Tell us a bit more about your career history

I have an Honours Degree in Financial Accounting and Marketing and I’ve completed an MBA. I spent several years at SARS in the Special Investigations Division, as well as at the University of Stellenbosch’s Medical Campus Division, where I oversaw operations and funding.

I then moved into the world of tech, accepting a role at Clickatell, where I found that I enjoyed and thrived in the fast-paced environment! I became excited by the possibilities that technology ignited and took the leap in founding my own start-up, TallOrder Solutions (previously CloudOne.mobi), together with Dana Buys in 2014.

Are there any specific women who inspired you and why?

I am inspired by everyday women, moms, grandmothers, nannies, and career women. I have been lucky to have met so many wonderful women throughout my life and career. I see inspiration all around me in everyday life. If you listen, you can learn and be inspired by just being present with the company you are in.

Describe your leadership style and how you lead others.

I believe in setting an example, leading from the front. I do believe in a learning culture, and do not believe in micromanagement, but rather accountability.

How do you balance work and life responsibilities?

I used to be really bad at balancing work and life responsibilities, work took over my own/me time– but I have taken up running since December 2020 and have since completed a 30km and 2 half marathons. I am very proud of myself. Running has become my own personal alone time, sometimes, problems are solved, or the best ideas transpire while running. I also paint to relax, and I am hugely influenced by art and the beauty around me.

How do you balance being a mother and a professional?

Being a mom of 4 boys (after a long struggle with infertility), I make time for my kids as they are extremely important to me. I do, however, believe in showing them that they are capable of achievements if they work hard for it and put their mind to it. They must dream big and love and be kind. They also need to know that they might fail sometimes, but how you get up and try again is what makes you special. I learn so much from my kids on a daily basis. Sometimes they are so much smarter than adults at life lessons!

Do you have any advice for women starting their companies / start-up businesses?

If it were easy everyone would be doing it. You must know it will take hard work and determination. Know when to push through with an idea and when to step away. Do not try to be everything to everybody, instead focus on your core strengths and build on that.

Be careful when recruiting and take time to appoint the right staff to build out your start-up. You need to make sure that you have the right team around you. Having the wrong staff onboard will not only cost you financially but emotionally and mentally as well. Learn to partner with the right people and to collaborate with those who have different strengths.

Learn to step to the side when you feel too much pressure, take a breather and reassess your situation and then step back in. Always celebrate your wins!

Any last comments that you would like to add

Kindness goes a long way! Always keep on learning! Love your loved ones whomever they are with all you can. Time is the one thing we can never get back – treasure your time as it is the most precious gift we have in this life.

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