Go-Getter Saskia Johnston – Forex at Sable International
Female Go-Getter Series 2017
BNI London Hub.. Representing 30+ Breakfast & Lunch Business Referral groups across Central London.
It’s not for the feint-hearted, arriving in a new country, let alone into the big smoke of London, where without a network, you are expected to hit the ground running in a new role – heading up and growing a business.
4 years on and not yet 30, Cape Town South African, Saskia Johnston manages Sable’s UK Forex Team and sits on 3 boards.
Having landed in the UK in a similar mode some 20+ years ago, I empathised with Saskia but more than that, I her approach, passion and determination were impressive.
I’m keen to know from Saskia, how it fees to be acknowledged as an Under-30 High Flier:
“It’s far more than I’d have imagined achieving before 30”
Resting not on her laurels at under 30, Saskia however, doesn’t like to think she’s yet accomplished her biggest achievement. And rightly so. If that were the case, for what would she’d be striving.
One instinctively feels that with Saskia, there’s an in-built repetitive pattern and perhaps never-ending circle of striving and the achieving; striving and achieving. Even in her life-motto..
“I strive to live by the quote from American soccer player and coach Vince Lombardi”
‘Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence’
…..note to reader: Did you pick up the word ‘strive’ in that statement?
One begins to appreciate how Saskia has achieved success in her customer-focused field.
Full of genuine enthusiasm for what she does and for ‘doing what’s right for the customer’, I’d say Saskia’s a natural fit for her role encompassing business development; building relationships and a focus on client retention.
“The thing clients love about us is us is we’re with them cradle to grave and we’re all about a personal service”
More Young, Dynamic Go-Getters Like Saskia… Please
One of the goals, in showcasing a select number of BNI London’s top female Go-Getter members, is to demonstrate the high calibre, range of professions and diversity of industry-sectors to be found amongst our business-women-members, across our 30+ central London groups.
“In terms of male/female members, we are circa 60/40% male oriented and we’re keen to achieve a better balance” Laura Hurren – BNI Executive Director UK | London
Reading this article about 29 of the coolest UK female startup founders in 2017 I guess reinforces why BNI London Hub wants to encourage more great business-women looking to do more business in London, to come along. V
Visit one of our groups and experience what BNI can do for you and your businesses – urges Laura Hurren
With this female-focus in mind, I asked Saskia if she’s ever encountered challenges around being a female in business:
“This question is more an opportunity vs threat debate.
I have often been in the minority yes, but I have tried to use that to my advantage. With a finance background and career, I’ve always been one of the few women in the room.
I like to think of it as an advantage. Different is good. I try to use being a woman as a strength and differentiation factor”.
Time to go back a few steps…….
It’s Saskia’s arrival in London that she deems, ‘probably her biggest challenge’.
It goes something like this:
After graduating from the University of Cape Town with a BSc Masters in Finance and a sub-major in Economics, she took a year out in London. Returning to the world of finance in Cape Town, she learns and progresses. 4 years later, highly skilled in Forex, she lands the dream job with Sable and before she knows it – she’s emigrating to London
“Career-wise it was all very exciting. Challenge-wise – well it was challenging and at the time, I had no idea where to start”
Now I know those South African’s are made of stern stuff, but emigrating alone in your 20’s is a big step. Arriving to set up a business area for a major player company, in a country let alone a big city where you know no one; a big city where you have no professional network and oh, by the way, you’ve left your partner behind, to ‘sort things at home and travel out when all is done’.
The one thing Saskia does know at this point in time, is that she needs to develop a professional network, and do that as quickly as possible.
Most of us would arrive and start putting the feelers out. Not Saskia. As if by magic, she lands from South Africa on a Tuesday and joins BNI Hammersmith on the Friday.
And its a life-changer……
Currently Secretary Treasurer for BNI Hammersmith group, Saskia waxes lyrical about her experiences, fellow-members/group.
I’m afraid the story unfolds as a bit of a BNI testimonial but there’s no other way of looking at it. It was a life-changer.
“Although I didn’t realise it at the time, it wasn’t just a professional network with it’s in-built sales team that I’d joined, I had created a business family for myself.
BNI proved the catalyst for me to quickly and successfully create a very powerful network of people who helped me develop both personally and professionally”.
“For years now, I have received many referrals and a substantial amount of business from BNI. What I love most about these referrals is that they are hot. My service and offering has already been explained. So, often by the time I meet the person, they are already sold”.
And grinning, Saskia adds
“It’s the only chapter I know who start dancing at a social before the main course has even been served! She feels very lucky to be part of such a wonderful ‘Sales Team’
The excitement doesn’t stop there.
6 months on, when Saskia’s husband is finally due to arrive in London, she asks the group’s Plumbing Business Owner if he has any tips on how her husband might go about finding a new opportunity. The response was more or less:
‘when he lands, send him to me and he has a job’
…and the rest as they say, is history. Today, Saskia’s hubby is the company’s Senior Engineer.
Q: Clearly BNI has worked incredibly well for you. What advice would you give to anyone considering visiting or joining BNI?
- Definitely visit one of our groups. It might be a life-changer for you too
- DON’T think you have to join a chapter on your doorstep or one that you think will bring you the most amount of money
- DO join the chapter that you like; enjoy. The one that makes you feel excited and energised.
….You might have gathered… Saskia doesn’t live or work anywhere near her chapter
Because I have to travel, for me it’s an 0430 start.
You’d think it would be a struggle, but because I leave feeling invigorated, even in the depths of winter, it’s just not.
Q: I know you are not yet 30 but what advice would you give to your younger-self?
- Life is too short. Don’t sweat the small stuff and have fun!
Q: What/who has inspired you – personally and/or professionally
Saskia reverts to her Vince Lombardi quote. “Using this as a backdrop, I put my successes down to a combination of hard work, luck and a fantastic professional network”
I think possibly, just possibly Saskia under-sells herself here – don’t you? She might add a few nouns like, passion, talent, tenacity and good old determination.
BNI London HUB |30+ groups across London
If you’re a Go-Getter – VISIT one of our 30+ Groups to find out what BNI can do for you and your business.
Men and Women Go-Getters are always welcome at our weekly breakfast and lunch meetings. CALL Amanda on 01923-777071 or email her email@example.com and she’ll find the right group for your profession/location.
Read our spotlighted Go-Getters’ stories (and their views on BNI) here:
- Catherine Baudino PhD, MNCP, FRS | Business & Personal Coach
- Saskia Johnston | Forex, Sable International
- Elizabeth Marsh | Floral Designer
- Giulia Remondino | Genius in 21 Days Memory Techniques
- Zoe Clews | Harley Street Hypnotherapist
- Dee Burrowes | MINDSET Strategist
- Beverley Corson | Business Growth Programme
- Emma Sear | Property Lawyer
- Kate Ketzel | Norland Nannies of Live-in Care
- Laura Hurren | BNI’s female-focus initiative is the brainchild of BNI UK Executive Director and Referral Marketing aficionado. Laura heads up BNI London Hub. Follow Laura on Twitter@LauraHurren_BNI | Connect with her on LinkedIn