KZN businesswoman wins prestigious award

2012-08-30 00:00

KZN businesswoman Margaret Hirsch, who was named the winner in the entrepreneur section of the Annual Businesswoman of the Year Awards in Sandton on Tuesday night, remains as down to earth as she was during her formative years growing up in Pietermaritzburg.

She told The Witness yesterday that one of her main aims is to impact positively on the people she interacts with, including customers and staff.

“I am not a high and mighty person. I always joke with people, telling them that I was the original poor white girl in my school … who went to her first job interview in her school uniform and got the job at a law firm.

“I also tell people it’s not where you’ve come from but rather where you’re going to that matters. I am very happy at being honoured in this way. My competitors all had degrees and MBAs. I have a matric from Russell High School.”

Her maiden name was Smith.

The competition — co-sponsored by Nedbank and Telkom — is run by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA).

Margaret’s task is a difficult one, given the fact that she lives and works in four regions of South Africa.

She spends two days a week in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban — and also spends Sundays with her family at a farm near Pieterma-ritzburg.

The chief operations officer of Hirsch’s, Margaret is a founder of the business along with husband Allan Hirsch. There is no doubt that she has had a tremendously positive impact on the business.

“When I married Allan he was earning R25 a week — in 1972. This year, we will have a turnover of about R1 billion.”

Margaret is no stranger to winning awards. She recently won the wholesale and retail category of South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards 2011, run by the Celebrating Excellence in Organisation (CEO) group.

Pietermaritzburg and KZN remain an integral part of their business. She stressed that despite rumours of a move to another location in Pietermaritzburg, Hirsch’s will remain in its prime spot along Chatterton Road — despite having received a good offer for the property.

She added that she is passionate about being involved in the wider community.

Hirsch’s hosts various training courses and networking events for B&B owners, domestic workers and even runs cookery classes.

Hirsch’s employs about 890 permanent staff, with about 2 000 people reliant on the business for their income when taking into consideration subcontractors and other stakeholders.

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