An inspiring executive highlights what is needed to achieve success as a woman and a leader in the flooring industry.

With a career spanning 25 years, Prema Charnock has worked hard to attain the level of success that she has achieved today. Her first job was in retail banking while completing her degree in Business Management at UNISA on a part-time basis. In the midst of travelling the continent and having a family of her own, she found her niche and passion in the flooring industry, starting at one of the largest flooring manufacturers in the UK, namely Polyflor.

“I now have 13 years of formidable experience in the flooring industry,” highlights Prema. “I’ve progressed on my enjoyable journey from administration and internal sales management to where I now thrive in my role as External Trusted Sales Advisor for Polyflor SA.”

This position entails her being entrusted with mentoring new colleagues and, in the space of three years, her areas of responsibility have grown from the smallest areas / targets to amongst the largest in the country. Her favourite products are Polyflor’s vinyl sheeting and wall protection systems, due to their versatility across various sectors and industries. These products do well for her clients, primarily because Polyflor values not only high-quality, innovative products but, above all else, a strategy going forward beyond the product. She achieves realisation of this by facing challenges and overcoming them together with her clients.

Prema notes that women with tenacity and resilience are a force to be reckoned with in a leadership role in business. “Women leaders are persuasive, assertive and take more risks,” she continues. “They are more empathetic and flexible with naturally strong interpersonal skills. Having good people skills allows women to read situations from all sides and not only lead team players confidently but also influence them to excel. This being said, success is never achieved alone but with supportive team members and managers, whom I am proud to say I’m blessed with at Polyflor.”

Integrity is at the core of the personal beliefs and values that she strives to carry into every sphere of her life including her role at Polyflor. “I never see my role as a seller of products, but always as a builder of lasting relationships of trust, supporting clients’ needs and their own values,” Prema explains. “The main thing is to love what you do and never stop developing your skills, to be professional and a team player.”

She goes on to say that despite the amazing qualities of many executive women in business, gender discrimination based on misconceptions of potential risk they bring to business is still prevalent. These issues reflect on the dual roles of women in balancing their work and family/personal worlds. “Perhaps it is in fact this balancing act and the challenge thereof that give us more drive, passion and determination to stay focused and achieve success,” enthuses Prema.

She concludes by advising specifiers in the industry to base their ‘spec’ not just on product but on forging a partnership with a supplier that has a solid track record. “This is the true money saver at the end of the day!”