17 August 2009
Valerie Bingham, Product Manager for Elvey Security Technologies, has been in the security industry for 13 years, moving steadily up the company’s corporate ladder from her first position as inventory and overseas creditors clerk.
Explaining her decision to join the industry, she says she saw it as a “quantum growth sector” that would allow her to fulfil her career and personal growth objectives. Thirteen years down the line, the industry has lived up to its promise. It has also changed significantly in that time. “From a gender perspective, the industry has traditionally been dominated by males. However, this is no longer an across-the-board scenario – just look at our own company staff profile, which is about 50/50,” she says. “We do see an imbalance in terms of our customers, where the majority are men. That said, I am not a woman’s activist. Rather, I believe that everyone has a place in our society, and that capability and readiness to undertake a task are not the only considerations when employing people in certain positions. An example would be not to expect ladies to climb ladders and drill holes – although there is no physical reason why women cannot undertake such tasks if they really want to do so. It also stands to reason that a good, technically-orientated person (usually male), having been involved in installations, sales and marketing and senior management, would more easily aspire to the position of a director than someone without this experience.”
In a work day that begins when she wakes up and ends as she goes to bed, she deals with a range of functions, from reviewing the mentoring requirements of her staff and then providing direction accordingly, to liaising with overseas suppliers, reviewing existing and new products and technical administration. Loving her job makes it easy to work long hours though. “I’m constantly inspired by interacting with our suppliers, integrating new products into our mainstream distribution system and making a worthwhile contribution to the executive management team,” says Ms Bingham. “Particularly rewarding is seeing people who aspire to a greater level, whether in terms of position or capability, achieving their dreams partly as a result of my influence or involvement.”
Inspired by challenge, it’s the demands of staying abreast of technology and being mindful of clients’ changing needs, which keep her on her toes.
Going forward in a world still struggling to the surface of a global recession, Ms Bingham says neither South Africa nor any of its industries – including the security sector – managed to escape the effects. “As a result, companies in all industries, whether service providers or manufacturers, have to look at ways to further add value to their offerings. Future success lies in identifying opportunities to move towards excellence. Specifically, I believe that turnover and margins will continue to be squeezed. Accordingly, companies’ executive committees have a duty to preserve, if not improve, their position in the market through product differentiation and adding further value for the benefit of the client.”
Deeply committed to mentoring her staff and interfacing with her peers in a positive manner in order to improve everyone’s ability to “shine brightly”, she believes in sharing “whatever skills she has in a non-selfish manner”. In this way, she says, she can secure a high degree of satisfaction for relatively little effort.
For Ms Bingham, effort and determination on her own part as well as that of her staff are the key attributes of success. Accordingly, she has no time for procrastination, egotism and a failure to put in the requisite effort that would lead to success.
Married to the “most unselfish, loving, caring and inspiring man”, Ms Bingham values time spent with her husband and their three children Sanchia, Paul and Lisa. Home for the family is a smallholding in a place called Witkop, which borders on to the Suikerbos Nature Reserve. “It’s the perfect retreat following a busy work day,” she smiles.