“Nothing will change if we stay in one corner of the room while fearing intimidation”.
An entrepreneur, self-made millionaire, and endangered animal advocate, Lady Colleen Glaeser is also the Global Marketing Director for AxxonSoft. She talks to SNDME about her road less travelled.
You started your first company at just 22, what was the driving force for getting into business?
I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit in me. From the moment I started my career in my early 20s, I knew that I was destined to run my own company and become my own boss. I was passionate about the telecommunications industry and there were many opportunities in the sector during that period in my life. As I was so young there was a lot more room for me to take risks and forge new pathways. As surveillance and telecommunications work hand in hand, the next step for me was to create a surveillance company – with the main goal of meeting the needs of the local market with high performing technology.
Describe your path to becoming Global Marketing Director for AxxonSoft, and why you got on board with the brand.
I helped bring AxxonSoft into the Southern African region a few years back. After a long worldwide search, I met with the Global President of AxxonSoft and realised it was the match I was looking for –the rest was history. Today, AxxonSoft Southern Africa is considered one of the top security and surveillance companies in the region. The next step was to join the international board of directors as the first female director. It is a role I am privileged and honoured to hold. Over the past year, we have seen the need to transform the company’s global marketing initiatives as we hurtle through the digital era. Creating this role has enabled myself and my team to take the brand to new heights through various digital strategies.
What’s your experience of the Middle East and how important is it to AxxonSoft?
The Middle East is an extremely important market for AxxonSoft. As a tremendously technologically advanced market, there is a lot of potential in creating a safe city and environment whereby state-of-the-art surveillance software is implemented. Through qualified research, we have deduced that video analytics, point-of-sale surveillance and license plate recognition are the most important verticals for the UAE in general. AxxonSoft will have a presence at Intersec Dubai early in 2019 and we look forward to showcasing new solutions. We have various exciting projects and new software launches in store for 2019. From cybersecurity testing to OpenVINO integration and onboard analytics, there is a lot to look forward to in the new year.
Talk about your typical month, what would we find you doing?
My average month is busy indeed. Between meetings with the AxxonSoft team to weekly marketing strategy meetings with my team based in South Africa, I am constantly looking for opportunities to take the company forward. In between this, I help drive awareness of AxxonSoft’s deep learning technology in the war against poaching, as well as manage the reserve I own in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands. I am lucky to have an extraordinary team under me who effectively help me roll out our marketing campaigns across the globe. I also travel extensively for the company, having recently visited Germany and London, with Dubai next on the agenda.
What were the highlights for you of 2018?
Taking on this new role has definitely been a highlight. This year, we also launched our adaptation of deep learning technology to help combat poaching in Africa. This has been a massive initiative, which has been incredibly successful. We have implemented this technology is some of South Africa’s major parks, creating the first Safe Park in the world as well. This technology can effectively tell the difference between humans and animals and helps game rangers and the control rooms easily identify live threats as well as false alarms. There has been a big interest in this project as rhinos are being killed off in exorbitant numbers year-on-year. I have been fortunate to showcase this case study across the world and on various news platforms. This is something that has been very close to my heart for a long time, and to see the success of this project is the highlight of the decade.
The security industry still has a dearth of females in meaningful roles. Why is this, and what can be done?
The security industry has always been a male dominated sector. We are, however, slowly starting to see more women in leadership and executive roles within the industry. I do believe that as a collective women need to stand together and support each other in the industry and in business. We are having to help change mindsets daily, but as is with most things in life there is no quick fix. We need to be patient and not lose ground on helping shape the culture of women in power. I do believe this is possible, we just need to continue forging the way for upcoming generations of women to take the helm when they are ready to. It’s not an easy process, but we will make our impact and we are having our voices heard.
Do you encounter sexism in business? If so, what’s your strategy?
During my long career, I have encountered sexism in business – and not just in a specific industry. I must say that as women have progressed in the workplace, particularly in the past five to 10 years, I have seen less sexism occur. This is very positive to see. When I have encountered sexism, I chose to not let it affect me and continued to move forward. I know what I am capable of and what can be achieved under my directorship, and I continue to focus on my confidence as opposed to what others may think.
What advice would you give to an ambitious female entering the security industry?
I believe the time is now for women to take the driving seat in any sector they feel passionate about. It may not always be the easiest route to take, but arm yourself with your confidence, believe that you are making a difference and go forth and conquer. Nothing will change if we stay in one corner of the room while fearing intimidation. Never let your ambition be a fleeting emotion, harness it for your success.
What famous women do you admire and why?
I respect all women who take the lead in their lives and create successes for themselves. This may sound clichéd, but I particularly admire my mother. She is a warrior and extraordinarily wise person who has helped shape me into the woman I have become. She truly is an inspiration to my family and all her friends.
What is your worst habit and best trait?
My worst habit is my best trait. This trait being that I am always switched on. I don’t have an on or off button, it’s just constantly on. I am continuously on the go, looking for new opportunities, new technologies, new marketing initiatives and new business solutions. This approach has rewarded me with many successes in life, but I am not sure I know when to switch off.
What words you live by?
“Nothing is possible without confidence.” This is my daily mantra. I apply it to all aspects of my life, whether it be personal or business related. This little phrase has help me achieve so much in life and it is something I encourage every woman to live by.