Overcoming the past and loving the future.
Overcoming the odds stacked against her is ingrained in Lerato Makoropo, Montecasino’s HR Manager. From a small girl, her determination to eradicate the overwhelming impact that events and circumstances have had on her has brought fresh new perspectives into her life, and the desire to bring hope into others’ lives.
Lerato grew up in Duduza township near Nigel with her parents and extended family and was the victim of sexual abuse by a cousin for three years. When Lerato eventually shared the reality with a cousin, the family was torn apart, with her father burying the truth in a desperate bid to ‘protect the family’ and turning to alcohol, eventually abandoning the family, and her aunt refusing to acknowledge the truth of what her son had done.
Left with no support for Lerato and her younger brother and sister, their mother was determined that Lerato should leave the township, fearing for the future the young girl would have if she stayed. Lerato, a naturally bright and high achieving scholar, had her sights set on law, but opted to study Labour Relations when her matric results were, understandably, lower than she had hoped.
As she studied and grew to understand her subject better, she fell in love with it and, while life at university was not plain sailing with the ongoing severe financial strain in the family, Lerato’s determination to succeed and not let her mother down saw her persevering through the hardship, working hard and earning bursaries. She achieved her National Diploma in Labour Relations and the Student of the Year Award, followed by her BTech in Labour Relations, majoring in Labour Law and Labour Relations. Subsequent studying has seen her achieve a Certificate in Employee Wellness from UNISA in 2016 and achieving her BCom Honours in HR through the Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA).
Her career has epitomised her love for human resources, her work ethic, and her resolve to overcome. Lerato says she loves “how my job exposes me to a diverse spectrum of people and cultures, while allowing me the freedom to be innovative. It is also one of those jobs where you can really see the evidence of the difference you are making and how you are impacting other people’s lives in a positive and fulfilling way.”
Lerato’s first job was at Emperor’s Palace in marketing. To get her foot in the door, she started as a Promotions Coordinator and did so well the Marketing Department asked her to stay on, but the HR bug had bitten, and she became a Graduate Trainee and then an HR Consultant. Since then she worked for Edcon and Itec, before joining Tsogo Sun (https://www.tsogosun.com/) at Gold Reef City as HR Manager in January 2012, where she managed a team of four with a company headcount of 400 employees. In 2014 she joined the Montecasino (https://www.tsogosun.com/montecasino) management team as HR Manager, with a staff of 10 and company headcount of 1 300.
Lerato’s lifelong struggle to terms with the realities of her past, recognise the impact it has had on her responses to people and her relationships, and rebuild relationships has required enormous strength, commitment to therapy and a positive outlook, but has borne the fruits of a strengthened relationship with both her parents.
“I cannot let my past define who I am, but I also needed to acknowledge how it had affected me. Traumas do have a long-term effect on many lives, on girls who have been abused. My hope is that my experiences will help others – children, adults who suffered abuse as children, and parents. Don’t sweep the truth under the carpet and don’t avoid getting help and support.”
As a mother of two boys, aged 11 and six, Lerato is also aware that she is far more protective than she would have been had she not suffered the childhood abuse. “I may be over-protective, but I am also aware that too often, the signs are missed, and parents dismiss their children’s withdrawal or misbehaviour as normal, rather than as an indication that something is wrong in their lives – such as abuse or bullying.”
Lerato says that overall, her life experiences have given her a strong sense of self, of empathy, of humour, and of the value of developing people to their potential. Today she is a self-proclaimed “colourful personality with a passion for life” and an overcomer who has the capacity and skills to share her life lessons to help others on their own journeys.
Lerato Makoropo has overcome adverse challenges and is today the HR Manager at Montecasino