Nadine Hurwitz (33), a cost and project accountant by day and a Ballet Barre instructor after hours, from Johannesburg, did exactly that. She got knocked down, had an idea, and, against many odds, made it happen. Twice.
To get back up when the school of hard knocks took you down is never easy and for some, it feels impossible. An elite few can envision an opportunity in a challenge. Fewer still have the determination and dedication to use adversity to kickstart their dreams.
Not many people will describe their journey to becoming a CA(SA) as a holistic experience of the mind, body, and soul, but that is exactly how Nadine feels.
‘The challenges and rewards that accompanied my journey moulded me into the person I am today – both in my personal life and my workspace,’ she explains.
Nadine is passionate, hardworking, and loyal and wholly invests herself in her challenges, roles, and dreams. ‘Honesty and integrity are integral in all I do, and I revel in problem-solving. I am goal-driven and I continually engage in opportunities for growth and learning. I am a team player and enjoy working with and getting to know new people.’
Nadine decided to become a CA(SA) because she is a creative, innovative thinker. ‘I wanted to give myself the best resources and foundation to realise these ideas in the smartest, most efficient way.’ She used the knowledge of her degree and experience to overcome so many trials and obstacles on her way to success.
One of the biggest challenges Nadine had to face on her journey to becoming the woman she is today, was getting retrenched in 2020 due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc throughout the world. ‘This was particularly challenging as the job market was suffering and the world was attempting to adapt to these new circumstances.’ Thousands of people lost their jobs without much prospect of getting alternative employment. Not only was the world economy on a downturn, but many businesses were failing and closing their doors. The odds for many were insurmountable.
Not one to stay down for too long, Nadine saw the challenge of her situation as an opportunity for success. It was almost as if losing her job made her more passionate and determined to succeed and thrive.
She started a business called Presentation Pal in 2020, amid the chaos of the pandemic. There was (and still is) an increasing need for people to present themselves well in an ever-changing world of digicoms and webcasts, online meetings, and the like. People not only had to master these technologies at breakneck speed in order to stay relevant, but they also needed to upskill themselves to stand out above the rest.
‘Presentation Pal assists and trains clients in developing their visual or verbal presentation styles and empowers them in this new age when there are so many communication tools. This includes slide shows, podcasts, real-life panels, and any other visual and verbal presenting needs.’
With job opportunities being slim to non-existent in the grim and dark days of 2020, Nadine told herself to ‘get a grip’. She chose courage as opposed to comfort, had an idea, and planted and nurtured the seed. Today she knows courage wins every time.
In 2021, Nadine founded another innovative organisation called GripIt. GripIt provides innovative refuse bags that clearly indicate the top and bottom of the bag, open with ease and speed, and are ultra-durable and spacious. On top of that, GripIt bags are eco-friendly and made from recycled material. Simple, yet effective and life-changing!
‘The idea for GripIt developed organically as I am, by nature a problem solver. I was getting frustrated with the difficulty of opening standard black trash bags and even identifying which side is the top. After researching this problem, I realised it is universal and affects every person. I, therefore, developed a product that solves these needs. The aim is to address a common human irritant of opening black plastic bags with ease resulting in the design of our bags and logos, procurement and industry investigation.’
GripIt refuse bags open with greater ease than the standard black refuse bags. Through the placement of the logo, one can easily identify the top and bottom of the bag. These refuse bags are strong at 25 microns and are produced locally. The concept seems so simple, yet it is amazingly effective.
Being a CA(SA) assisted Nadine tremendously with the launch of both her organisations, especially GripIt. ‘My studies and articles, along with subsequent business experience enabled me to understand, research and manage the product from design to distribution including pricing, logistics, sourcing, design, and procuring of the product. I am blessed to have this foundation to work from.’
With her unique perspective on life, it is no surprise that Nadine did not shy away from the challenges the pandemic and her retrenchment caused in her life. ‘COVID has had a most interesting effect on my life,’ she says. ‘From being retrenched due to the economic effects of COVID mid-2020 to starting two of my own businesses – GripIt and Presentation Pal. It taught me that adversity can be used as a catalyst to kickstart you into pursuing and developing your own visions and dreams.’
Her experience has taught her not to take anything for granted in life and to always express gratitude. ‘You cannot place a value on health and the blessing of family and friends whose support I am grateful for every single day.’
Nadine lives her life by the words of author and motivational speaker Brené Brown: ‘I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.’
These days, Nadine is constantly trying to create a positive impact on someone, or in some way, in everything that she does. ‘There is a Jewish teaching of ”Tikkun Olam”: in ““repairing the world”, everyone has a particular role to fulfil. With each waking hour there comes an accompanying responsibility to help repair the world.’ She now knows, in the words of Adam Grant, ‘the most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed’.
Nadine’s advice for other entrepreneurs
- If you have an idea, do not dismiss it or doubt yourself. Take your dreams and yourself seriously, otherwise, you cannot expect anyone else to.
- Remember: adversity can be used as a catalyst to kickstart you into pursuing and developing your own visions and dreams.
- Do not take anything for granted and always be grateful.
- Try to have a positive impact on someone or something every day. You have a responsibility to help repair the world.
- Courage wins every time.