Keryn House is the Managing Director of Houseway Consulting, which provides management consulting services in marketing and communications. As a faculty member at USB-ED, her experience includes practical market-driven strategy development and implementation across multiple sectors of industry. She shares the following with us:
What has been your toughest leadership challenge?
"Though rewarding, good leadership is by its very nature a challenging task. My toughest leadership challenge was probably my very first leadership role, which also resulted in the largest personal growth of my career. After having worked in a clothing factory for 10 years, I moved from Durban to Pretoria. There I completed my MBA thesis and joined a new team of sector specialists from a range of manufacturing industries at the government's Department of Trade and Industry. Our task was to build the competitiveness of these local industries in an era of rapid globalisation. As the Director of Industrial Strategy, my department was faced with issues around labour, small business, tariff/quota protection, and investment and export development – which was complicated by the highly sensitive nature of these industries. While definite strides were made on building strategic competitiveness, it was not enough to grow and sustain the industry fast enough in the face of cheap imports. The experience gave me a rare insight into the workings of government. I learned to understand the very real battles that many of our internal and external policymakers face in seeking to create an environment in which local businesses can thrive, while balancing the interests of stakeholders. These learnings further ignited my passion for strategic marketing."
What is the toughest leadership challenge businesses face today?
"I don't believe this has changed. I have always believed that (sustained) growth is the toughest leadership challenge of any business."
Who inspires you and why?
"I am inspired by people of integrity, who are true to themselves and who pursue their passion, purpose and beliefs, while remaining humble at heart. My late father, Dudley House, was always an inspiration to me and in many ways, I am still inspired by his legacy."
What attracted you to become a hand-picked faculty member at USB-ED?
"I have always valued academic standards in an institution of higher learning. This, coupled with the Stellenbosch University brand and the opportunity to work across geographies in my area of expertise, attracted me to USB-ED."
Do you have a mantra or slogan that you live by?
"I will borrow Dr David Molapo's book title on this one: Lessons From Eagles – If You're Not Growing, You Are Dying." I believe this applies to all aspects of our lives, especially mental and spiritual. Change is never easy, but we can learn to embrace change, to learn and to grow stronger. The more you practice it the easier it gets!"
What book are you currently reading?
"I am usually reading a few books at a time, fiction and non-fiction, print and digital. On the non-fiction side, I am reading Clem Sunter's book Flag Watching, How a fox Decodes the Future plus a few books on writing a PhD, which is my next goal on the horizon. On the fiction side, I am reading a hard-hitting novel by Jodi Picoult called Nineteen Minutes. As an author, I am an avid reader and writer. One of my favourite books is a memoir by Stephen King called, On Writing."