In conversation with Lenti Morison

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Lenti Morison still has in her possession a letter she received when she left the South African Police Service (SAPS) after a 21 year career. It was given to her by one of her staff members, thanking her for the positive influence she had had on his own career.

“That was when I realised that we don’t know just how much influence we have on other people. To this end, and with Women’s Month still fresh in our minds, I want to encourage all the ladies (and men!) out there to live the best versions of themselves all the time because you never know who is learning from you.”

Career path…
The Key Accounts Manager for the Fidelity Security Group today, Lenti’s security career started in the police force in 1988. Fresh out of TUKS University, having majored in criminology, psychology and social work, she joined the SAPS as a member of its start-up Child Protection Unit in the Vaal Rand.

From there she was promoted to Detective Commander and later Commander of the Management Information Centre at Johannesburg Central SAPS, before being offered and accepting a position in the private security industry. “It’s not quite the career path I set out on after ‘Varsity but life has a way of taking you on a route and I have no regrets,” she grins.

In November 2009, Lenti joined Fidelity as Regional Manager at the Estates Division. Characteristic of her commitment and drive, she rose quickly up the ranks to her current position of key accounts manager, where her main focus is on operational, client and business management. Passionate about customer satisfaction and employee development, she’s in her element in the demanding, fast-paced environment that is the private security industry.

Challenges…
“Like anywhere, there are challenges. In this industry, one of the biggest is gender-based discrimination, although it has improved over time. The thing about challenges is that they’re not insurmountable. You can overcome almost anything with integrity and exemplary behaviour,” she says.

“With my children now grown up, it is much easier to juggle things and get the life balance right. When they were little and at school, it was very challenging being a mother and wife while pursuing a career in the operational side of the security industry. It required a lot of planning, discipline and sacrifice.”

Career dreams…
“I want to ensure that the region for which I work and the team of which I am part, takes its place as the best in the country. My eye is constantly on beating our previous targets, and playing a key role in ensuring Fidelity Security Services’ ongoing success.”

And for South Africa?
“Without a doubt, my dream for our beloved country is for it to be crime-free. I’d end up without a job but we’d all live in a paradise!”

Proudest achievements…
“When I look back on the people I’ve mentored over the years, and see how successful they’ve become, how they’re making a difference today, I feel very proud.  It’s so important for us to share our knowledge with the younger generation and prepare them to be more successful than ourselves. Being part of a person’s career and seeing how they develop and reach their potential is greatly rewarding.”

Best advice…
“Believe in yourself. You don’t have to change who you are to be successful in this industry so stay true to the person you are. Learn as much as possible from whomever you can – you can actually learn from everyone – and make use of what you’ve learnt. I’m not just talking about careers. With all the racial and cultural tension in South Africa, we have an ideal opportunity to learn about the different cultures and then manage our actions and that of our staff with this knowledge. Emotional Intelligence makes one’s job much easier and more pleasurable and makes a real positive difference to everyone around you.”

“Regarding young women in the industry, they need to realise that, despite the limitations and restrictions of the past, women before them flourished in operational careers. They proved it could be done when it was so much more difficult. We need to be there to support each other at all times. Finally, if you are not equipped with endurance, you are unlikely to be happy because success comes on the back of never giving up.”

Chill time…
A favourite pastime for Lenti and her husband is photography. “We are both amateur photographers who love wildlife, so being out in the bush is one of our favourite places to be.”

Role models…
“There have been many different influencers in my life, some who taught me about my career and others about personal growth. People like Director Jenny Naidoo and General Mpembe from SAPS, and Ian Loubser, Malcolm Stephens and Leon Bartmann from Fidelity Security Services, have all been greatly valued mentors. One woman in particular serves as my constant source of inspiration. She had a severe stroke at the age of 39 yet has stayed positive, continuing with her life, adapting, never giving up. Today at a healthy 71 years of age she is still the friendly, humble, positive, cheerful person who gave birth to me. I would never be who I am today without my mother’s example and presence in my life.

Also at the top of my list is my husband. He enabled me to make a success of my career, always there to support me with advice at hand and he never stood in my way when I had to work late nights or miss family time on weekends. Although he had a demanding career and senior position in his own field, he never thought his career was more important than mine. I will always be thankful to him for his support and commitment.

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