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Career focus: meet Deana Govender, PA to one of Durban’s top surgeons

Her name is Deana Govender and she’s a personal assistant. Even though it wasn’t her intended career path, Govender says she has found gratification in what she does.

Her name is Deana Govender and she’s a personal assistant. Even though it wasn’t her intended career path, Govender says she has found gratification in what she does.

Published Apr 21, 2022

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SR: Name and job description?

DG: Deana Govender, personal assistant

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SR: What ignited your passion for your work?

DG: Becoming a personal assistant was not the intended career path. However, I find instant gratification in the work that I do as a personal assistant to one of South Africa’s most sought-after surgeons and philanthropist. My passion for my work is fuelled by my ability to help people. I often meet people at their lowest point in their life and being involved in even a small administrative part of someone’s journey to health and wellbeing is wildly rewarding, knowing that they have been given a second chance to life.

SR: What/Where did you study?

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DG: I graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor’s of Social Science degree, majoring in Environmental and Geographical Science and Psychology. I then furthered my studies while working as an assistant and obtained my Bachelors of Science Honours degree in Environmental Management from UNISA

SR: Take us through a typical day in your line of work?

DG: I wake up at 5am and depending on the work load for the day I either indulge in a 20 minute yoga session or a work out on the elliptical. I always start the day with overnight oatmeal, fruit and green tea. This routine sets the positive tone for the day. Keeping your mind and body healthy also helps with being on top of your game. Thereafter, I arrive approximately 45 minutes early to work every day to prepare before the work day starts. An assistant has to be well prepared in order to deal with queries and to multi-task well. I work through hundreds of calls and emails, liaise with patients and other stakeholders, schedule meetings, appointments and theatre bookings as well as assist with research. The work day ends at 5pm.

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SR: What are some of the projects you’ve worked on?

DG: I was given the opportunity to assist my employer with starting up an NGO focusing on medical research with an aim to enhance the medical field.

SR: What will always be your proudest moment in your career?

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DG: Assisting my employer with making headway with his NGO. The NGO has become a success and has helped improve the lives of many South Africans through collaborative scientific research and education of medical illness and surgical advances.

SR: What will always be one of your lowest moments in your career?

DG: Assistants can sometimes take on too much which can lead to burnout. This was a teachable moment for me realising that sometimes even assistants need assistance and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Focus on simplicity.

SR: What are some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

DG: Growing up in a township was not easy but through our financial difficulties I was still able push myself academically and gained acceptance to the University of Cape Town. I travelled to Cape Town on my own at age 17, at first it was a daunting experience as I was sheltered by my family and now I had to fend for myself. This experience moulded me into the strong independent women I am today and I will always be grateful for this challenge.

SR: How do you find the inspiration to continue despite the challenges?

DG: I continue to make advancements in my life simply because I want to lead a better life than the previous generation. I have access to the opportunities that they were not permitted to in order to lead an extraordinary life and make it a reality.

SR: Tips of someone reading this who would like to be where you are one day?

DG: Be honest with yourself and keep moving forward without losing sight of your destination, nothing good can come from dwelling on the past or on a missed opportunity. Instead, be focused and prepared for when the next opportunity strikes.

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