Passionate Corné Koch, 45, head of Convention Bureau: Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division of Wesgro, is proud to be part of the business events industry and to have seen how it has grown in South Africa in only a short space of time.
Says Corné: “I consider myself blessed to be working in a dynamic industry promoting experiences.
“South Africa is professional and dynamic in its service offering and can deliver world-class experiences. I see the future as becoming increasingly more competitive.
“Forming meaningful partnerships would be a key factor to survive in the future. I also believe in investing time and energy in educating peers in this sector. It takes a while to understand how it all fits together.
“Know your clients well, but know your competitors even better.
“We need to embrace the sector and find ways of creating knowledge economies from this sector. It is a constant trial and error business that poses hidden opportunities to be explored,” she added.
Where did you grow up?
I am a Jozi girl, born and bred. I attended Hoerskool President and completed an honours in communications at the Rand Afrikaans University, as well as an advanced business management certificate from Technikon Witwatersrand.
Where did you start your career?
My career started with organising in-house training meetings for staff at the Technikon Witwatersrand.
How long have you been in the business events sector?
I have been actively involved for 17 years. What I enjoy most about it is all the interesting people I meet and the relationships I’ve formed.
Leaving the Technikon, I joined the South African Chamber of Commerce. In 2003, I joined the Gauteng Tourism Authority and then exchanged one authority for another when I joined the Advertising Standards Authority as communications manager for three years, before heading back into the tourism sector in 2011 as trade development manager for Gauteng Tourism.
What role does your family play?
I have been married to Martin for 13 years. Our family consists of our two daughters five and 10. We are a close family unit and all my free time is devoted to spending quality time with them.
Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I have a soft spot for museums, artefacts and antiques with a good story.
What is your favourite sport?
Cricket. AB de Villiers is my favourite sportsman.
What do you do for leisure?
Spending outdoor time with my family – doing mostly walking.
What is your secret to success?
Being true to myself and doing business with integrity.
What has been your biggest challenge in the business events industry?
The whole issue of globalisation and how it influences the sector.
What is your pet hate?
Having to waste valuable time sitting in traffic.
What is the most memorable place you have ever been to, and why?
The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. I was overcome with emotion at the sheer size of the cathedral.
What type of holiday would you avoid at all costs?
A camping holiday.
If you could be anyone for the day who would you be and why?
I always wondered what it felt like being from a royal family, having an entire castle and all who worked in it at your disposal.
What is your favourite place?
What is your favourite book, film, TV programme?
Books – I like to read biographies of interesting people.
Film – Fried Green Tomatoes.
TV – Any good documentary.
How do you relax?
Having a pizza evening with my family on the carpet.
What is your favourite food?
Any good pasta dish.
Who is your favourite movie star?
Who is your role model?
My dad. He constantly teaches me that values and good morals will make you an individual at peace with yourself. And to be consistent.
What advice do you have for anyone starting out in this industry and hoping to follow in your footsteps?
I always say that the tourism industry – no matter which field – is a bit like a bug that bites you and does not let go. If you have passion for the sector, the rest will follow, but it is no easy ride and certainly not glamorous. You have to work hard and be prepared to persevere for what you want.
What is your dream for the future?
My dream is that our country will still be attractive for my children to want to live in it one day and to continue to provide economic benefits to those who choose to live and invest in it.