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Janet Thompson – all about sharing and serving

Janet Thompson – all about sharing and serving

By Ntsako Khosa
People in the industry are open to giving their input, Janet Thompson from global company, Saint-Gobain Gyproc/Isover, is one of those people…

Janet Thompson, Cape regional technical and specifications manager for Saint-Gobain Gyproc/Isover is open to queries about her work and personal goals.

“I focus on leading by example, sharing my knowledge and encouraging my team to be the best they can be. There is no ‘I’ in team,” she says. Currently in her sixteenth year at the company she still sees a promising and bright future.

Her role is extensive and includes, among others, identifying key projects that bring maximum benefit to the company in line with key performance indicators to ensure that Saint-Gobain is seen as the preferred partner, supplying innovative sustainable energy efficient solutions to the market, engaging with architects, quantity surveyors, main contractors, developers and government offices, coaching and developing a regional specification team as well as implementing and developing sustainable and profitable customer relationships.

“Honesty and integrity are key in my professional and personal life. I really enjoy establishing a good rapport with my clients and listening to their needs and offering them a cost effective superior solution. The time I spend engaging and growing our specifications team is another favourite part of my job. The team has a wonderful, positive and ethical vibe underpinned by team work and hard work. It is an absolute pleasure to have every one of them on my team. Our Cape commercial manager, Brett Caudwell, allows us the latitude to endeavour new ways of doing things,” she shares.

Where it all started

With a Bachelor of Music from Stellenbosch University, she explains how she got into the industry by absolute default.

“I was still a student and to earn extra cash I applied for a morning only sales job. I had no previous sales experience and to my total surprise in the first group interview at Databuild – a building information company – I was requested to do a one-minute presentation on how I would sell a washing machine. Ultimately, I was offered the job. This turned out to be a very lucrative career move for me. The job set me on my building journey of 26 years and I am still going strong,” she expresses.

Her time at Databuild facilitated her selling skills through countless sales courses and mentorship from the sales director and managing directors. “Through them I grew in confidence, as well as selling skills, cold calling skills, goal planning, self-reliance and ultimately I learnt to believe in myself,” she says. She recalls being top sales performer and enjoying quarterly bonuses, trips and accessories. Similar performance and success has followed her at Saint-Gobain winning the Team of the Year award three times in row as well as Gyproc Sales Team of the Year in 2016.

She joined Saint-Gobain in 2003 in the sales division and has been there ever since. “I am a sales person at heart and love the process of providing a sustainable, innovative cost-effective solution to my clients. I love most aspects of my job as I am surrounded and supported by a competent and phenomenal team in the Cape,” Thompson says.

Changing the industry

Cape Town’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2% in the first quarter of 2017 while the country’s economy declined by 0.7%. “The Cape Town property market has proved resilient in tough economic times with stable price inflations and rental escalations combined with lower vacancy rates compared to the rest of the country. There has been a marked rise in the Cape Town inner city central business district (CBD) with retrofits and new builds,” she says.

Despite the industry doing well in her region she highlights that lack of compliance and understanding of important regulations that should be complied with on site is an aspect the industry has to overcome. “In 2011 new legislation called for all new buildings and renovations that need plans approved must be designed to efficient standards. It is important for the industry to understand that 40% of South Africa’s total energy is used by building. Correctly insulating the building envelope can control energy loses and reduce energy consumption by up to 78%.”

“Challenges that occur in many lower-income, mass-built affordable houses, where the contractors do not always comply to legislation ensuring that all homes have a ceiling and insulation in line with legislation. It is challenging and almost impossible at this stage to ensure compliance. Therefore, educating the people in legislation is critical.

“In Cape Town we have a high condensation rate indoors that leads to unhealthy indoor environments in affordable houses. Water dripping in the inside of the closed windows and on the ceilings and walls, causes mould growth which can lead to children and parents developing serious respiratory diseases now or later in life. Correct insulation and thickness in line with our climatic zone in the ceiling would help combat this condensation problem leading to healthier Capetonians,” says Thompson.

With close to three decades in the industry, she has been heavily involved in securing a number of projects for Saint-Gobain. From airports, hotels and apartments, shopping malls, corporate head offices, student accommodation, gym facilities, museums and key supermarket chain stores.

“My career high and project of a lifetime was my involvement at concept stage and ensuring specification and installation of our extensive Saint-Gobain product range into the Silo District, but primarily with The Zeitz MOCCA Museum (SAR issue 102) and The Grain Silo Boutique Hotel (SAR issue 101) at the V&A Waterfront.”

The wrap

“My thinking and my philosophy is along the same lines as Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love, ‘The reason so many of us are obsessed with becoming stars is because we’re not yet starring in our own lives. The cosmic spotlight isn’t pointed at you, it radiates from within you. If we wait for the world’s permission to shine, we will never receive it. Our deepest fear is not that we are in adequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’ So, I intend to shine brightly and positively for the rest of my life,” she smiles.

To further coach, mentor and build people are her aims. “I am passionate about God, music, my wonderful family, my very special friends, my fabulous job and our church. Keeping the balance with all of the above is critical to my life. I believe that everyone should be treated with kindness, as kindness costs nothing…and neither does a smile!”



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