Cape Town - Juggling the law and business comes naturally to Janine Myburgh, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Myburgh is an attorney with her own practice, which she began in 1999. But she also heads an organisation that speaks up for business.
“Being an attorney means being a businessperson while applying the ethical norms and standards of the legal profession. It may be difficult to comprehend, but the deafening sound of a telephone not ringing is a scary sound”.
Myburgh had to “unlearn” and challenge stereotypes of a patriarchal society which dictates women should not speak until spoken to and should not sing their own praises.
“It was unheard of to put yourself out there, to market yourself and your business. I naively thought being a good attorney was enough. I had the ability but I just did not have the clients. As a result, I joined the National Council of Business Women, as well as the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1999 with the aim to network and get clients,” she said.
It took her three months to start networking because she was “too afraid” to attend events and sell her business. She is now feels at home at the chamber.
Myburgh is driven by a desire to see growth and development in what she does and values, such as sincerity, a strong character, integrity and a sense of duty. These have led to her making a difference in the lives of others.
“Every city has its challenges. The ones that we have faced recently are the drought and inadequate rail system. The effect on our economy is substantial - in the case of the drought, we saw a significant drop in foreign film production for instance. I don’t think we would expect a film location scout to choose a city facing its worst drought in 100 years.
“The issue with rail is we don’t have enough rolling stock, there’s frequent theft of signalling equipment and commuter comfort and safety has been compromised. This problem must be addressed, and that the city and business, if they work together, they could solve this.”
Other issues which needed to be tackled, she said, included waste recycling which could provide job opportunities for thousands of people.
Myburgh would also like to see decisive action taken on the three aerodromes, lying vacant and grossly underused, to provide housing closer to the economic nodes.
Her term as president ends in November. She counts some of the Chamber’s achievements during her term: the establishment of the first City Improvement District to fight crime, the setting up of the H2Know Expo at the onset of the drought which brought experts and suppliers together to enable businesses to make better decisions regarding water security.
Myburgh has ideas on how Cape Town can position itself to compete against cities such as London, New York and even Dubai.
“Cape Town has so much to offer, especially as a business destination,” she adds.
And, after Myburgh hands over to her successor, she plans to spend more time with family and friends who had to play second fiddle to duties and responsibilities.