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Sunday, 16 August 2020

Taking the steer in a man's world

DRIVE FOR SUCCESS: Alumna Janine van der Post is the editor of Wheels24. DRIVE FOR SUCCESS: Alumna Janine van der Post is the editor of Wheels24.

South Africa’s first female editor of a mainstream motoring publication has often been asked: What do you know about cars?

But journalism alumna Janine van der Post didn’t allow this to steer her off course and her passion for her profession saw her being appointed as editor of Wheels24 in December last year.

“I’ve always been a petrolhead for as long as I can remember. My mother would yell at me because I’d be outside watching my dad and cousins and what they were doing under the bonnet instead of learning to cook in the kitchen,” she said.

As a journalism intern at one of the first internet news companies, WorldOnline, Van der Post “practically begged” to be on the motoring beat.
“Eventually, Steve Smith, our editor at the time, gave in and allowed me to run the motoring section a year later and I made it a mission to pursue the beat.”

But it wasn’t easy to make her mark.
“I had to show I was serious about wanting to be in the motoring industry. You needed a thick skin back then as I often heard: ‘what do you know about cars’, not only as a young girl, but also being a very young person of colour. But my passion and bubbly personality spoke volumes, and I think because I never allowed anyone to deter me from my goals, I was accepted into the male-dominated industry pretty fast,” she said.
“It also helped that I could drive and hold my own on the road. It took some time to build up my confidence, but the guys respected that I wasn’t afraid to drive as hard as they did.”

She enjoys getting to drive brand new cars – from small and affordable to superfast and expensive cars. “I’ve seen parts of South Africa I never knew existed, and I have been blessed to travel the world. But what I absolutely enjoy the most is learning new things every single day, and being able to share that knowledge and my passion for cars with our readers – especially opening a new genre to people who would never click on motoring articles. Another thing I cherish most are the friendships I have formed over the past two decades with my fellow motoring journos, especially the very few females in our industry.”

Balancing her work and home life is no easy feat, but the mom of a five-year-old daughter said the support of her husband, Clavern, and her parents make the juggle easier.

Van der Post has the following advice for female students who want to make their mark in a traditionally man’s world: “Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you you can’t do anything. Learn to trust yourself, and love yourself, and allow yourself time to reach your goals. One of the most important things I am still learning, is not to be so hard on myself. If you keep being knocked down, or told negative comments, get up and go talk to yourself in the mirror like a madwoman – enforce positivity and speak your goals out to the universe, from your lips to God’s ears.”

*For the duration of Women’s Month we will be profiling several phenomenal CPUT women whose achievements and activities help us to become One SMART CPUT.

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za