Eleven and a half years ago, on the 1st of March, Barbara Dlamini walked into the Tarsus Technology Group offices, then situated in Bramley, and started working as a tea lady.
‘’I always knew that this was a temporary position. There was something inside of me that wanted more and so I made a promise to myself that I would work hard to get that ‘something more’, even though I had no clue what it was at the time.” recalls Barbara.
In 2011, Barbara started assisting at the switchboard during her lunch time and tea breaks, because her curiosity got the best of her, and she wanted to challenge herself. That “something more” was still in the back of her mind, and in her heart, refusing to go away.
With no prior knowledge of switchboard operations, no formal training and no computer experience, Barbara taught herself how to operate the system. On top of this, she would take the reins at reception when needed.
“Every chance I got, I was in that switchboard room, clicking buttons, taking notes and making mistakes because I was curious. I never got the chance to complete my matric due to personal circumstances. So, for me, this was a chance to learn. In a way it was a chance for me to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my head and heart on,” adds Barbara.
A natural choice?
When Tarsus moved to Woodmead in 2014 and a position for a Switchboard Operator was advertised, it seemed that she would be the natural choice for the job because her temping meant she had taught herself how to operate both the old and new switchboard systems. But she didn’t get the post.
To add to her disappointment, Barbara was prevented from temping at the switchboard for a period of four months.
An eager smile
“Whenever the switchboard was one woman short, Barbara was ready to step in; always with an eager smile. She didn’t care whether she had to come in extra early in the morning or leave late in the afternoon. She made sure she got the job done. Her perseverance and tenacity are inspiring,” says Alzette Peterson, Barbara’s manager.
“Perseverance” is a word that Barbara is all too familiar with. While completing her matric, her grandfather and aunt passed away, leaving her with the sole responsibility of taking care of her one-month old baby. She had to drop out of school to lead the household.
“Life doesn’t happen the way we think it will; sometimes, you’re disappointed because you are being prepared for something greater. I choose to believe that great things are about to happen. I do not believe in giving up,” says Barbara.
So, in September last year, when another position for Switchboard Operator was advertised, Barbara applied again but was told that in order for her to be considered, she would need to complete her matric.
A fair request
It seemed like a fair request so the following month, at the age of 46, she registered for her matric.
“Barbara speaks to the caliber of people we aspire to employ at Tarsus: curious; passionate; and with a strong will to succeed. Her ‘keep on keeping on, no matter what life throws at you’ attitude is infectious,” adds Peterson.
Barbara is currently on track to complete her matric, something she has wanted to do since assuming the role of breadwinner as a young girl, 30-odd years ago.
Most importantly, she is now Barbara Dlamini – Switchboard Operator at Tarsus Technology Group.
“Respect your elders, respect your job and focus on what you want in life,” she concludes.