28 year old Dedré Pillay fills the tough role of Transport and Support Services Team Leader at Gearhouse South Africa’s Johannesburg branch. She takes responsibility for timeous delivery of jobs in her region and is often on duty into the small hours of the morning, but when her work obligations are over, she likes to fill her spare time with her nieces and nephews; taking them on excursions and enjoying family events. “ Becoming a mother is definitely on the cards sometime in the future.”

Having matriculated in 2006, she decided to take a gap year, volunteering at Outward Bound, an organisation that facilitates outdoor camps – as one of only two South African youths to be accepted into the program and the only one to complete it. The experience took her out of her comfort zone as it was all about basic living and self-sustainability and this is where she learnt, that life is “either sink or swim”. This chapter in her life was an important milestone for her, where she went from being a fast-living city slicker to adopting a more humble, modest outlook. 

A life-changing event for her over this period came in the shape of an abseiling accident where an outing went terribly awry when her life rope became entangled with the main rope resulting in a 4m fall. Thankfully the incident resulted in only a few minor injuries but it also left her with the philosophy of “You can give up or you can dust yourself off and carry on..” a motto that has governed her life since then.

After Outward Bound, she was approached by City Year South Africa, to apply for an internship where she facilitated after school English classes for learners in Freedom Park, Eldorado Park. Her exposure to the Freedom Park environment made her realise how blessed she was in her own lifestyle and upbringing. She stayed on at City Year for 2 years and in that time, received her NQF Level 4 qualification in project management, a basic course but enough to give her a good idea of what she wanted from life. 

Thereafter she applied for a receptionist position at Gearhouse in 2010, which she filled for only 9 months before being ‘cherry-picked’ to move into Operations where she took on “anything and everything” that she possibly could, “so as to learn something new, every day.” 

“I have had strong mentors both in Johannesburg and in Cape Town branches. That guidance, together with my strict upbringing and an enduring faith in God, has brought me to where I am today” she says.

“I believe that you set your own limitations, and even when you think there are jobs that are impossible to deliver on, know that you have the capability to deliver them nonetheless. You just have to pull yourself together, even when you are feeling overwhelmed and realise that it is all part and parcel of the job. Keep reminding yourself that the most important factor is the product.”

Seven years down the line, Deedee (as she is fondly known by the Gearhouse family) is holding her own in a tough role and has grown through her experiences to become the women she is today, unerringly finding her way with a recipe of laughter and perseverance. 

Aug 29, 2017

The Gearhouse Group of Companies