Barbara Queally

Barbara Queally

Current title
Managing Director and Owner of GMPF;
Beyers Hospitality;
Shareholder of QDB Holdings, Arrow Group

Course at Wits Business School
Women in Leadership, 2016

A defining moment in my career
Independent from a very young age, I had one life plan, ‘to own my own knives and forks’ and never to rely financially on anyone else. After two years of pursuing a business degree at university, I dropped out.

I just wanted to do business and felt I was wasting my time in a classroom. I started my own business when I moved to South Africa, aged 23. Money wasn’t my main motivation; it was the success of my results and the passion for everything I did.

I learned to be resilient in my industry, learning from every mistake. Growing confident and fearless in business, I allowed my dreams to become bigger and bigger. I had no formal training on how to be a leader, yet 650 people saw me in this role. Entering a role of leadership at a very early age had forced me to be ruthless in dealing with the intimidating aspects of the corporate culture.

A change in personal circumstances forced me to slow down and review my position as a leader. Having not been in a classroom since I was 18, I was convinced to attend the Women in Leadership course at Wits Business School, arriving with low expectations.

The course focused on using emotional intelligence (EQ) to improve your work relationships and environment. During the first lecture, I realised that my capacity for empathy and listening skills was dismally low. After so many years of forcing people to listen to me and my ideas, I had neglected to listen to others and take their feelings into account.

I wanted to be a supportive, inspiring leader and realised that I was not giving my employees any room to develop. I wondered if it was even possible to become a more authentic leader. The answer is yes. After completing the course, my relationship with my employees completely turned around, and business is better than ever. You either have a high intelligence quotient or you don’t, but with EQ you can change everything. I am a testament to that.

Similar Posts