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  • Writer's pictureAction Appointments

Staff Spotlight: Lisa Garson, Executive Director

Years at Action Appointments: 28

Key Roles and Responsibilities: Executive oversight and client relations

Personal Motto: What’s the worst that could happen?

Be sure to sign up for Lisa's FREE Recruitment Webinar, taking place on 8th December @ 11h00:

How many years have you been at AA and what was your background coming into the company?

In the early 1990s I was working as a human resources manager at a science education NGO and we received a grant which required us to staff up the organisation from 30 to 120 staff members in one year. I was really stretched by this task and tried to get other recruitment agencies to help me. To my surprise none of the agencies I spoke to could understand what I was looking for. They were all working in the corporate sector and the development jobs that I was recruiting for such as a field implementer or a project coordinator were foreign to them. When I left the NGO, I realised there was a real niche in development recruitment and together with a colleague from the NGO we set up Action Appointments.

Why did you initially choose to start AA and what has motivated you to stay in this sector for so long?

Working in the development sector has been a wonderful experience. On a number of occasions, we tried working with corporate companies, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I think one of the most amazing things about running a recruitment agency like Action Appointments is that in placing the right people in jobs in the development sector organisations, we are making a direct impact on their work in fulfilling their missions and bringing about change at a very practical level. A few years into running Action Appointments I realise that this was the only sector I was interested in working in and decided to focus all our efforts on building NGOs by finding the right capacity.

"On a number of occasions, we tried working with corporate companies, but my heart just wasn’t in it."

Did you ever consider leaving AA, and what helped you to keep the company going all these years?

I’ve never thought of leaving Action Appointments. I have trained up a wonderful team and that does give me some space to pursue my own love which is youth development, working with young people in different ways to get them into productive work. I never find my work at Action Appointments boring; I love talking to clients and finding out what their needs are and the best way for Action Appointments to offer them assistance. I obviously also love finding jobs for the amazing people we work with who are dedicated to this wonderful sector. We have had some tough times where funding for our clients has been tight, but we have been flexible and resilient, finding ways to tighten our belts and just keep going. We have weathered a few storms and also managed to survive. By the time the pandemic struck we were used to finding creative ways to survive and within a few days of the lock down we were all working from home, offering discounts to clients working in the area of pandemic response and learning a lot about how to work remotely as a team.

What is your fondest memory about some of the first jobs you worked on at AA?

I think I have to say the TRC was one of the most exciting jobs we worked on. The agency who had been contracted to staff up the TRC nationally was overwhelmed and asked us if we would consider taking on the recruitment for the Gauteng branches of TRC. It was really challenging, we had to put in a couple of all-nighters, but it was also incredibly exciting and we found ourselves talking to some fascinating struggle heroes in our mission to find the best people. That job really put Action Appointments on the map.

Recruiting for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the 1990s helped put Action Appointments on the map

What is your favourite part about your job?

I love getting a spec from a new client for an organisation I haven’t heard of and finding out about the wonderful creative work they do to make our country a better place. I also love it when I am talking to a client and I suddenly think of the perfect person for their vacancy.

Tell us a little about your life outside of AA

I am a mom of 4 with 3 grandchildren. Family is incredibly important to me and I try to spend good time with them, preferably in nature. I love nature: swimming in the sea, diving in the kelp forest, walking in nature, spending time in the Eastern Cape and just hanging out with my friends. I run an NGO called Breaking Beliefs which works with young people at the mindset level, supporting them to let go of their limiting beliefs and accessing their true power. I love working with young people and I do believe that the only real way our country will change is if we attend to our youth who are our greatest resource. I am a trained Zen Coach and I also coach people around their jobs, especially when they need to make a brave or bold move. I run a coaching consultancy called Next Step Coaching which focuses on that work.

What’s one thing your colleagues probably don’t know about you?

My colleagues really know almost everything there is to know about me because I’m a pretty open book. They might not know that I love snorkeling in the great African kelp forest! I also attend Death Cafés, which help people come to terms with the mortality of themselves and their loved ones.

Lisa has lived near Cape Point since 2008 and is a snorkeling regular in the famous kelp forests

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