With over 25 years’ experience in food and beverage manufacturing, Irene Neave, local industry manager Food & Beverage at Endress+Hauser South Africa, is an example of one of the extraordinary women in the industry. Irene chatted to Tennille Aron from Food Review about being a woman in her current role and how she juggles her personal and business life.
Q: As a woman, in your position at your business, what special traits do you bring to the role?
A: I have extensive experience in the food and beverage industry in all applications and processes. I think my expertise as a microbiologist as well as my comprehensive knowledge of food safety and hygiene, helps me make a valuable contribution to the business. As a woman, I am compassionate to other people, which is important as we are ultimately dealing with different personas. It is not all about the processes.
Q: How important do you think it is to support other women in the food and beverage industry?
A: More women are exploring a career in the food and beverage industry, and it is important to ensure women can form close connections, share experiences, and learn from each other to eventually overcome systematic hurdles.
Q: How do you juggle personal life and business life?
A: I live a life of gratitude, and love my family with all my heart. I find beauty in the wonders of nature, like the spectacular colours that appear at sunrise that remind me that the sun always finds its way back and we should be grateful for that. Juggling personal and work commitments is never easy, but over the years I have learnt to keep boundaries between the two. I also draw a lot of support from my family and that helps me to stay focused.
Q: What is the best thing about being a woman?
A: Having an unmatched compassion and a strong sense of identity, knowing our value in life and our incredible ability to experience motherhood.
Q: What is your message to every woman out there for Women’s Day?
A: If you are not passionate about what you do or happy where you are, don’t be afraid of new beginnings and never compromise on your femininity as that is what makes us different and unique. No one can take that away from you. My message is inspired by one of my favourite quotes in life. “It makes no difference how many peaks you reach if there was no pleasure in climbing them,” Oprah Winfrey
Q: Name two women that you admire the most
A: Most definitely Oprah Winfrey and Elisabeth Elliot. The iconic talk show host, Oprah, has achieved so much against all odds. I also admire her for how she makes people open-up during her interviews and draws from their wisdom and experience. She is laughable, soulful and tender, and she admits when she makes mistakes.
The other woman I admire is Elisabeth Elliot. Her life is such an exemplary example of bravery and how to be truly compassionate and forgiving. After her husband was killed by a tribe in Ecuador, she went back to live with them and do missionary work among them.