Get To Know the Faben Team: Estie van Heerden, Operations Director

This week, we got to know our Operations Director, Estie van Heerden, a bit better. Read more about her below.

Tell us more about your role at Faben.

As Operations Director, my role covers a broad spectrum of areas within the agency. From daily management of our South African team to management of all our external service providers, ensuring that we deliver efficiently within the budgets set for each of our clients, making sure we deliver top quality services to our clients with a clear strategic plan in place, providing our UK team with insights on both delivery and client health, and finally assisting with the marketing and new business development within Faben as a whole.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with a diversity of clients and of course my super talented team whom I learn from on a daily basis.

How did you choose your career path?

I was all set to study architecture, but my father insisted I do an internship at a Public Relations (PR) firm, an advertising agency, and an architectural firm. The excitement of the advertising industry won my vote! I have always loved good designs, and advertising offered a great creative outlet. The strategic background really intrigued me as well. I was 19 years old when the internet was introduced in SA, and I immediately transitioned to digital. I loved the initial coding it required, but again, the creative, animated, interactive, and program side of it was a fantastic shift. My job is never boring, and the beauty of digital is that you can accurately track performance and ROI – unlike publishing.

What are some of your career highlights?

As GM at Business in Africa, I got to organise and host the Business Leadership conference for three years in a row. Invitees included top world leaders, African presidents, as well as South African business and political leaders. My conversations with Sir Ketumile Masiri and Nelson Mandela were very memorable and I will cherish them for the rest of my life.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I have always been an athlete and I’m addicted to sports. I competed competitively in triathlons for 12 years, especially the longer-distance races such as Ironman. I retired in 2018 to focus more on my children, and I decided to apply my time to youth development in running. I started a running club in our community which has successfully contributed to top athletes in road, trail, and cross-country running. I am a keen cook, gardener, and wildlife photographer, and I love being in nature.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

My husband is my true north and constantly reprimands me about the pace I tend to live by. I am not the best at managing this, and I will work for hours on end if I am intrigued or challenged by a work project (which often happens). However, I have mastered the art of turning off my laptop when my daily task list is done, and I take a break from all digital devices at night. My children take priority in the evenings and on weekends, and when I can, I try my best to work in an afternoon nap after a weekend run!

What are you currently watching on Netflix/Disney+/Apple TV+/Amazon Prime?

I started watching ’The Simpsons’ with my boys from episode one! It is the longest-running series ever, and undoubtedly the best evening entertainment to watch with my family. As an adult, I can finally resonate with Homer!

What book has changed your life, and why?

Papillon. I got it as a gift from a good friend when Iturned 18, and his grit, endurance, and unconditional lust for freedom changed the way I perceived situations in my own life. He also believed that you should treat anyone you come in contact with, with the utmost respect. To this day I make a point of treating everyone as my equal, and I believe that a kind gesture can go a very long way. 

What do you want to achieve in the next year?

To further upskill myself with additional Google and HubSpot training. I also want to learn how to utilise my TikTok Account! I will be doing the 100 km trail Skyrun in November this year and I believe that 2023 will be my main trail running and cycling focussed year in sport. I also want to complete a field guide course and further my knowledge of the bush – learning the Latin names of our fauna and flora is at the top of my list.

What is something that nobody at Faben knows about you?

I survived a brutal crocodile attack and by the grace of God, managed to escape with minor injuries. I also enjoy painting and I play the harmonica – quite well!