Posted By: Jeannette Shelton on June 11, 2014
I started at Dionysus on 1 July 2007 as a contract Programme Manager. The programme was a Department of Environment and Tourism (DEAT) ABET and Business Skills Programme. Wow, what a baptism of fire! I had never programme managed before and it was a huge project. Learners came from Harding in the South to Mkuzi in the North. Learners had to be paid a stipend into their bank accounts on a weekly basis. Venues and catering had to be organised. That Christmas I flew to Egypt for a short holiday and I remember sitting in my hotel room paying the learners over the internet and battling to balance my books.
The reporting to DEAT was very onerous. There had been nobody in the DEAT position for about 3 months, so there was a backlog to catch up. I was contracted for 3 days per week but I worked long hours to try to make sense of the complicated spread sheets given to us by DEAT, and they had to balance to the last 5 cents. The spread sheets had 21 worksheets that were all linked to each other. Well, I learned a LOT about spread sheets and accountancy in a very short time.
My contract finished at the end of June 2008 and I was about to leave when a eThekweni ABET project started and the CEO appointed me to manage that one too. That was when it was decided that I should be appointed full time within Dionysus. The eThekwini ABET programme was very rewarding. Learning venues stretched from Umzinto in the South to Virginia in the North. Learners came from all departments of eThekweni Municipality – Parks and Gardens, Engineering etc. You had grave diggers sitting next to cleaners etc. It was a very interesting programme to be involved in.
After that I settled into Food and Beverage Packaging and Soft Drinks Processing learnerships for companies like Appletiser and Distell nationally. More recently my involvement has been with Business Administration and Project Management learnerships.
Life at Dionysus has always been interesting. There is always a new project to get involved in and Irene, our CEO is constantly coming up with ideas to be researched or implemented. I have learned a lot from Irene and I will be eternally grateful to her for being my mentor over the past 7 years.
I have also been privileged to attend the ASTD conference held at Champagne Sports resort in the Natal midlands in 2011. What a fun trip. We hired a minibus and a group of about 12 of us travelled up to the ‘berg for the event. We stayed at Cayley Lodge and commuted to Champagne Sports Resort every day. Seth Baise, one of our Directors, was the designated driver and as we left Durban he asked if anyone had a good vibey CD to play. He was given a particular song which he played EVERY time he started the vehicle. As we turned into the reception area of the hotel he cranked up the music and we made a spectacular entrance. The conference itself was very informative and we all returned more unified by our team building exercise and excited to put into practice the various theories we had heard.
Its been great also working with individuals who started out as learners on our learnership programmes and ended up being Dionysus employees. I have made some very special friends with these people, particularly Sine, whom I have worked with for the longest time, Bernard who used to travel to and from work with me at one time, and Olwethu who still travels with me. Kathy and I have also been close due to the years of travelling together to work and the experiences we have shared.
I remember many fun times over the years. For instance Seth standing at the door of his office with two large plastic bins filled with learner PoEs. He whistled down the passage and everyone went to their doors to see what the commotion was about. He said “clear the decks” and then ran down the passage pushing the bins into the archive room at the other end of the passage. This was his usual routine.
I have been working alongside Quentin (QJ) for the last few years. He always has interesting stories of his escapades with his squash buddies or cycling or what he saw on his walks. He always takes lots of photos so it has given me (and the other staff) an opportunity to see what he tells us about. I am going to miss our chats and his advice.
More recently when our new website was launched we had a photo shoot at our 59 Florida Road Branch which was different and fun to participate in. And then just last week, we tried something completely different, catering for the ASDFSA breakfast hosted by Dionysus at our new premises at 57 Florida Road. It was my job to make the scorns and muffins, which required a 3 am start to be ready on time.
As much as I am excited about the move to England next week, I am going to miss all of my Dionysus friends.