Q & A with Judith Serafim, Managing Director at Imvusa Interior Trim

1. Tell us about yourself and Imvusa Interior Trim

Born and bred in Durban, I am a mom of two and my educational background is in Finance as well as Marketing, where I hold a Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) in Marketing Management. My career background is largely in the Financial Services Sector, with my last corporate stint as a Regional Manager (KZN and Gauteng) of a niche banking institution.  Imvusa Interior Trim (pty) ltd is a 1st tier component manufacturer, manufacturing interior trim for the automotive industry – loose mats and moulded carpets for vehicles.

2. How did your business come about and has it changed your life?

The business was established as a result of a gap identified in the market. Entrepreneurship is certainly a completely different ball game to employment. Life therefore, can never be the same.

3. Your previous experience is within the financial sector, do you feel this has been to your advantage?

To a degree, yes. In my previous work I was actively involved in the administration of governmental incentives for industries. This often concerned the automotive industry, which garnered loads of experience with the International Trade Administration Commission’s incentive programmes, the Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) and various other incentive and development schemes.

4. Have you always been entrepreneurial? What led you to taking that first step and setting up your own business?

Both my parents were entrepreneurs, so I have been exposed to it all my life. It has always been the plan to pursue, though there have been lots of trials and errors along the way.

5. If any, what challenges have you experienced as a woman in business during your overall career?

One needs to build up resilience. I am privileged to have a mentor in Gerry Motley, who is a thought leader and a centre of excellence and knowledge. I am learning from him and look forward to more learnings. Find yourself a mentor to associate with, who can guide you along the way when faced with challenges.

6. Why is gender balance and having a more diverse workforce important, especially in senior management teams?

Studies have proven that there is value in having women in leadership positions. This results in a positive impact of fostering diversity in the workplace. In addition, women in leadership harness women’s economic potential and contribution to economic growth.
South Africa is fortunate in that there is a constitutional imperative for gender transformation in the workplace to promote equality. This is further reinforced by the Employment Equity legislation.

7. Are there processes in place to aspiring female employees within Imvusa Interior Trim to further their careers?

Although we operate in a male-dominated industry, we continually endeavour to maintain a diverse balance between male and female.

The vision is to create an inclusive culture where women can thrive within the company.  That means providing tools for women and creating a space where women are provided an opportunity to develop and succeed.

8. What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring female business leaders reading this?

Don’t try to be a man, you can be strong and feminine at once. There is no substitute for hard work. Keep at it, resilience is key. Believe in yourself and giving up is not an option.