Desere breaks the mould of traditional roles in the workplace, and shows that anything is possible with the motivation and drive to succeed.
Growing up, Desere Fahey was taught the value of working hard for what you want. Raised by a strict, single mom, Desere was instilled with the importance of being independent and the value of taking initiative.
At 17, Desere’s mom passed away unexpectedly and she was left to look after herself. She refused to let her circumstances define her and completed her matric with university exemption while living on her own. Only a few years later at the tender age of 20, Desere walked into the founding West Pack Lifestyle Randburg store at Lifestyle Garden Centre, with the goal of finding a job to support herself and her month-old son. With her CV in hand, she insisted that she would not leave the store without a job. She was told to leave her CV and someone would contact her.
Desere’s passion caught the attention of CEO, Chris Jnr Da Silva, who invited her back for a formal interview. And with that, her life (and theirs) was forever changed. Desere started her climb to success within the Group as an Information Counter Clerk and over the years threw herself into whatever, and wherever, she was needed. Whether it was opening and setting up stores, liaising with suppliers, training staff or doing administration duties, she rolled up her sleeves and crafted a career for herself that can only be described as awe-inspiring.
Today Desere is Warehouse Manager for West Pack Lifestyle, a role that is traditionally occupied by men, and manages the receipt, storage and dispatch for over 65 stores across South Africa, Namibia and Eswatini (Swaziland).
Desere is known affectionately as Des, or Mama D among her team of 200 staff at West Pack’s Distribution Centre, and considers her team as her children. Des also has a very unique management style. She’s as straightforward with her team as her mom was with her, and takes each person’s unique strengths and weaknesses into account, mentoring them to become better versions of themselves. She believes to train and empower from within her team, and as a result every supervisor or manager has started out at the bottom, just like she did. “I love seeing my team grow. I don’t put them in situations where they can fail – I make sure they start out with mentors around to train them, until eventually they can become mentors themselves. Everyone looks forward to that and it makes the business more sustainable,” says Des.
Des acknowledges that her line of work may seem daunting for some, but her secret to success is to not be afraid of conflict. “There is conflict every day, in every situation. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I was afraid of conflict,” she said.
Now a single mother of 3 boys, Des makes it a point to keep work and home life separate. “I leave work at work, and home at home. It wasn’t always like this though. I realised about three years ago that my boys deserve more, so I now make it a priority to be there for the important things, like every soccer match or sitting in the lounge reading homework to one another. I am proud of what I have achieved, and the kind of life I get to live because of West Pack.”