Growing into a specific role over the years helps to advance one women’s unique career while focused on passion and dedication.
As Research and Development Manager at Belgotex Floorcoverings, Keshnee Tiluk is responsible for the company’s design department and their product development requirements. This entails tracking trends and innovations in the market place and developing product offerings that unify the company’s manufacturing capabilities with projected demand.
“This involves everything from conceptualisation that is in-line with international design, colour or texture trends, through to producing samples, testing and quality control of the final product before its official launch,” explains Keshnee. “My position demands that I stay both technically and creatively informed, and as such, it is both an art and a science. Technically, I keep abreast of developments in terms of machinery and technology, such as the new SDX Soft yarn technology, while nurturing a practical understanding of our operational limitations. It’s an art because you need to have a feel for socio-economic trends in order to predict demand before launching a product.”
Keshnee’s introduction to the flooring industry wasn’t initially planned, joining Belgotex Floorcoverings after matriculating as a Lab Assistant. From there she moved onto quality control and then got involved with ISO systems being implemented at the time. This growth assisted in advancing her technical skills and training, enabling her to develop an understanding of the production capacity and limitations of machinery and how it affects quality. Her remarkable career has spanned over 23 years and consequently, she has experienced the changing market dynamics, giving her insight into Product Development, and from there it naturally evolved into Research and Development.
“I think my ability to combine left-brain logic with right-brain creativity has taken me this far in my career,” Keshnee says. “I am very interested in hearing all points of views, which enables me to read situations accurately while considering all opinions. I then filter this information through my quality and development ‘eye’ and implement a plan that incorporates the best ideas from production and marketing to ensure that Belgotex Floorcoverings remains a trendsetter.
Her tenacity and dedication define her work ethic, but she is most proud of championing Belgotex Floorcoverings’ Green Journey beyond just developing sustainable products. “We’ve put several best-practice systems and initiatives in place (such as our world-class solar system and our own Erema recycling machine) that truly impact on the triple bottom line,” Keshnee highlights.
Before revealing her invaluable opinion on the unique attributes that women bring to the flooring industry, she emphasises that male leaders in the industry are exceptional in their own capacity. “However, women usually make the purchasing decisions when it comes to décor, which is why I firmly believe that we have a strong influence in design. This gives us more empathy and a better understanding of consumer behaviour,” she continues. “I would advise women in business to get educated by acquiring a qualification and training to back their decisions. They should also analyse and get the facts before making decisions, and not ask anyone to do anything that they aren’t prepared to do themselves. The most important factor in determining whether one will succeed isn’t gender-based, it is dependent on the individual themselves.”
Keshnee goes on to stay that the flooring industry is unique because the rate of change or innovation both in design trends as well as materials, distinguishes the flooring industry from others. “I don’t believe that the rest of the construction industry faces quite the same rate of innovation or the scope of products,” she explains. “Texture or colour aside, one doesn’t see as many seasonal fashions or new materials in bricks and mortar as one does with flooring. As women, we have that instinct to predict these changes as well as the ability to combine progress with implementation. It’s all good and well to have the ideas, but they need to be practical too.”
Her advice to other women is substantiate your decisions and keep learning. “To learn one has to keep asking questions,” she enthuses. “My job as I see it, is to set a clear strategy, ask the right questions and encourage our managers to be experts in their business. I’ve never felt prejudiced for being a woman because Belgotex Floorcoverings prides itself on gender equality.”