Organising Is Going From Strength To Strength In Africa…

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POAA Conference

While those of us in North America were trying to squeeze in just a few more summer activities or getting our families ready for back to school, members of the Professional Organiser Association Africa (POAA) were gathering near Cape Town for their 3rd Annual Professional Conference. POAA member Jan McWilliams is here as our guest today to tell us all about it!


In the current economic climate, one has to keep a close check on the value of any purchases that could possibly be regarded as “non-essentials”.  Well, at the end of August two of my “spends” came under the spotlight and I am thrilled to report that both have given me the best return on investment I’ve had for a really long time.

First under scrutiny was the money I paid to attend the 3rd Annual Professional Conference in the beautiful Devon Valley winelands near Stellenbosch.  It kicked off on Friday 28 August with a fabulous cocktail party, and was a great opportunity to meet, get to know and network with other like-minded individuals, all of whom have a genuine drive to get organising recognised as an essential service that has huge benefits for those clever enough to utilise our services.  A fantastic evening was had by all as we mingled, chatted and got to know “The Americans” (as our four visiting organisers became known), as well as learn more about organisers in our areas.  Tracey Foulkes, South Africa’s very own “doyenne” of organising was on hand to kickstart the conference, as was Julie Morgenstern who chatted about her early beginnings in the profession 20 years ago – true to form, Tracey had managed to get Julie to not only come to our cocktail party during a visit to S.A. but also to host two phenomenal workshops while here, all in the space of a few short weeks.

Saturday morning was when we got down to business.  The keynote speaker was Barry Izsak (Arranging It All, Austin, Texas) who put together an extremely inspiring and entertaining presentation on the state of the professional organising industry.  Barry told us enough to make us all so thrilled we had followed our passion and become organisers, as the future looks absolutely incredible.  We could hardly wait for Monday to come around so we could get out there again…

Linda Smith, Cape Town financial coach (Financial Freedom Abundance Coaching) gave a talk on taking control of your finances using a blend of practical tools and universal principles aimed at increasing the flow of money into your life, something we all aspire to and, with the new tools at our disposal, are well on the road to success.

Lizel Stephens (Strong Foundation) gave us fresh insights into the vitally important role networking plays in our relationship building – essential to the long-term success of any business.  Her information on the different personality types and how to successfully relate to them was particularly useful.

It was then time for a few Professional Organiser Association Africa (POAA) awards.  Tracey Foulkes and Jeanne Viljoen (POAA founders) presented several certificates of excellence for their outstanding contributions to the industry in Africa to Jan McWilliams (Get Organised), Nicolette de Villiers (Nicolette de Villiers) and Suzanne Martin (Harmonize).  The Founders Award went to Leanne Host (Get Organised) for her amazing results in linking the association with so many fantastic industry partners.  Well done to all!

Lunch was another great opportunity to network and learn from our colleagues, before heading back to the conference for a fascinating presentation on innovations in marketing, by Naomi Paul-Butow (Market Tree Consultancy).  In the years since I last studied and worked in the marketing profession, things have certainly changed.  It is essential to our success that we stay on top of these trends and direct our precious resources at the right target market in the appropriate way – thanks for the advice, Naomi.

The “Ask the Organiser” panel discussion with Barry Izsak, Karon van Vuuren, Joan Kuenhold and Julie Hibbs (the Fabulous Four Americans) was tremendously valuable as a resource for “tried and tested” solutions to questions or problems we may face in our daily business.

The Business Analysis presentation by Julie Hibbs (Squared Away, Houston, Texas) had such useful information for the overall running of a professional organising business – every bit of information given was really practical.

All in all, I learned more in one day than many courses would have taught me, and the conference gives one such a feeling of camaraderie with other organisers that you return to the working world feeling revitalised, inspired and raring to go.  Every bit of information I learned was 100% relevant to my success as a professional organiser.  The money spent on my place at conference was so worthwhile – I could not recommend this event more highly as a real boost to your business and your motivation.  Heartfelt congratulations must go to Nicolette de Villiers who put together the most fabulous venue, speakers and all-round excellence I’ve experienced in a while.

As professional organising grows in Africa, I can honestly say that my membership with POAA has been instrumental in ensuring that my success continues to grow.  POAA provides fantastic resources, links you with amazing industry partners, encourages discussion with fellow organisers, continues to increase your skills with its Focus Group meetings, as well as connecting you with clients all looking for the services of an organiser who follows a code of ethics and is truly professional in everything they do.  As POAA becomes increasingly known and gets even more press, it will become the essential “one-stop shop” for anybody who is looking for a reputable organiser and quality products and information.

I just wish I got as much value for my money in other areas of life…

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Jan McWilliams

Jan McWilliams is a busy wife, mother and Professional Organiser with Get Organised. After many years of praying for cupboard doors to stay closed when she had company, as well as never having time for all the fun stuff, she finally saw the light and got organised. Living the life she knew was out there she now helps others do the same.

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  1. Angela Esnouf Angela Esnouf on September 8, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Wonderful! I love this industry of ours. Professional Organisers know how to come together and share.

  2. Avatar Janet Barclay on September 9, 2009 at 5:35 am

    That’s so true, Angela! Although there’s a certain level of competition, which is normal in business, I find that for the most part, organizing professionals are really quite collaborative.

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