What better person to start our 'in the spotlight' feature, than our very own Managing Director Bronwen Nel. The irony is, Bronwen is somewhat of a spotlight dodger, preferring to work in the background. So, tearing her away from her headphones, and promising to return her DAW, once we've got the lowdown, we asked her to share some of her inspiring journey and accomplishments
The Boasty Part! Bronwen holds a Master's degree in Creative Media Practice (with distinction nogel), has a women in ICT award, she has been a facilitator for as long as she can remember and, is a qualified assessor and moderator for sound and radio training. She has been managing her own fully accredited training company for 15 years. Through this she authored various sound training publications. At 29 years old she made a pitch and was outsourced to manage the SABC music studio which she did successfully from 2005 until 2012. Feeling the need for a change, she undertook to build her own studios. In additon to the training Bronwen also owns a production company.
Bronwen is an accomplished pianist, music producer, sound designer and final mix engineer.
Where it all began
In the spare room of a small flat in Jeffrey's Bay is where Bronwen Set Up Radio Active Productions Publishing. There she built up her music and production work and offered one on one training sessions for up and coming sound engineers
Hailing from Johannesburg and moving to Jeffery's bay was a bit of a lifestyle shock for Bronwen when she moved away from 'bright city lights' to venture into working for herself. From the fast paced production schedule of Joburg, to a town with a beach and one long road. A gifted producer, Bronwen set up her own small business and built it up from scratch, in the early days freelancing for other businesses, with the goal of one day owning her own studios, where she could work in final mix and production and create a training company that helped graduates to enter the work place equipped and able to do the job. Whilst this time was far from plain sailing Bronwen admits it's in the hustling and trying that she learnt the most. "You learn how to deal with clients, you learn patience, you learn to work until the job is done and you learn its ok to say no sometimes"
Landmines and Learning Curves
Landmines are dangerous because you don't know where they are and, even if you do spot them, you don't know when they'll go off. In any business there are no guarantees, but in the training and media production sphere, there are additional challenges to consider, such as new legislation for training, and creativity being subjective in media. Completing funding applications for either industry is a challenge in itself. Having taught one on one training sessions in sound Bronwen ventured into the world of accredited training, which was awarded to her company Radio Active Productions Publishing in 2006. In the early days as an accredited provider, one such challenge Bronwen faced was that her company had been awarded funding by a company for 16 learners. She followed the process for application and interviewing and recruited 16 deserving learners who otherwise would not have been able to study. The calls were made, the places offered, and preparations were made to start the program. "All seemed well until I phoned to follow up on the payment only to be told the funder had no idea who I or the company was". A little stunned and heartbroken, Bronwen was left with the task of making the calls to the previously successful candidates to tell them the funding had fallen through. Bronwen recalls "This is the hard part of the job. Managing disappointment for yourself is one thing, but having to disappoint others is a whole different ball game". So, how does the story end? Well after some thought, and admittedly a few tears Bronwen decided that she would not let the funding hold her back from training and determined she would 'do it anyway' choosing three out of the sixteen learners to come and study. In that year the maths shouldn't have added up but despite the challenges, those three learners plus an additional four graduated with their National Certificate in Sound. Of that time Bronwen Comments " The challenges don't change, but you are changed when you face challenges, things like this, don't just go away as your business grows, you just learn to deal with them better"
Success doesn't happen overnight
Keep working at it, when you think you can't keep on keep keeping on.
Today, Bronwen Is the managing director of two companies, one in training and the other offering media services, and she does indeed own her own studios. Her journey has certainly been an adventure. At one stage in her career, Bronwen was managing one of the music studios at the national broadcaster, training full time students during the day, part time students at night, and presenting a radio show on a local community station from 3-6am. To add to the adventure she also undertook to complete her master's degree, often being quoted during these times as saying "you sleep when you're dead". This coupled with the challenges of running your own small business was a fundamental foundation to how Bronwen runs her company today. Looking back on that time now, Bronwen muses "they say hindsight is twenty twenty vision, if I was faced with those challenging times now, I'd maybe slow down a little, but the truth is, if you work hard there is a reward, it might not come straight away, but it does come. Running a small business is a challenge in itself, no-one tells you, you have to trust your client to pay, no-one tells you they sometimes don't and you carry the consequences, or that sometimes as a creative you'll work hard on a project and a client won't like it. I was blessed that I found a mentor in Zola Yeye the regional general manager at SABC, who believed in me and took a chance on my pitch to manage the studio. Then I set my mind on the tasks and kept working to fulfil my vision. Those were the times I learnt the most, I've never stopped learning, and don't intend to. I think that when you feel like you've got to the end of yourself, you just have to keep on keeping on"
You gotta have faith
Above all things, Bronwen is a woman of great faith and attributes her determination to God's faithfulness. Her final words. "Whether you're in times of plenty of times of little, you have to trust that all things work for good for those who love the Lord. Ive always beleived that, and He's never let me down"