Liezel van der Westhuizen is a household name, having been on radio and TV for many years but she is currently changing the game like no one has done before.
The relaxed smile, smooth and professional working manner and impeccable style has made her one of the most sought-after presenters and emcees in the country.
She began her public speaking and Emcee career over a decade ago and, to date, has hosted more than 500 events across South Africa and internationally.
The ever-smiling presenter has won numerous awards which include a bronze and silver awards as a member of the Toastmaster’s Society.
She is also often invited to give motivational talks, covering topics such as “Beat the Bully”, “Empowering Women”, “Finding Your Inner Strength” and “Personal Brand Personified”.
Liezel started a business called The Giraffe Brand Academy where she trains entrepreneurs and corporates on the importance of their personal brand.
The Giraffe nickname was given to Liezel by journalist and designer Craig Jacobs back in 2009 in the Sunday Times.
It is not only in the business world that she is making a difference, helping university students with personal branding is another passion.
She officially kicked off her University Road Show in August 2019, talking PERSONAL BRANDING FOR GRADUATES. Liezel took on 20 students from around the country whom she mentored and coached on personal branding and furthermore, travelled to various universities around South Africa to educate students on their personal brand as well.
“I have been involved with various roadshows around the country working with students on their personal brand and have recently accepted 20 students through THE MENTORSHIP CHALLENGE on eTV, and will be working with them on the brands.
Many students and graduates believe they don't have a brand and have to wait till they have gained work experience before working on their CV's or personal brands, when this is in fact untrue.
She adds "In your favour is a fresh slate in the marketplace. But, even if you feel young and inexperienced, every part-time job, internship or travel experience has made you the awesome young individual you are today. So, be sure to include these enriching experiences when drawing up your CV." Liezel says.
Liezel is no stranger to conservation and giving up her time and efforts to help those in need. She is a proud voice for those who can’t speak for themselves and continues to do passionately.
Liezel was introduced into the conservation field at a young age as her parents taught her the importance of conservation and encouraged her to volunteer at the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre during her school holidays.
She firmly believes that there is a need for more people to speak out and become ambassadors for various conservation projects, to protect wildlife and preserve it for future generations.
With the nickname “The Giraffe”; Liezel believes that it is only fitting that her conservation efforts lie with Giraffe conservation.
"With fewer giraffes left in Africa than elephants, it is imperative that we tum our attention to these unique animals before it is too late. In 2020 I will be working with a conservation group to raise funds and awareness around this." Liezel says.
Passion and Work
Passionate about helping people reach their full potential, Liezel travels around the country delivering motivational talks and keynote addresses on various topics.
- Employers, don’t be scared of your employees’ personal brand
Bosses and managers want to hire great talent for their teams. It makes their lives easier and allows them to look good in front of their own superiors in the office. But what if the entrepreneurial streak of a hotshot employee is of concern?
In this keynote address, Liezel says astute managers will encourage staff as they set about developing their own personal brands, knowing these can serve to create a win-win for both the company they’re running and their most valued employees.
- employees with strong personal brands will create interest and draw customers
- there is a way that an employee’s personal brand and the permanent job they are doing can co-exist; that the two can be highly beneficial to each other
- trust is essential, so embracing those tough conversations is vital
- Future-proof yourself with your personal brand
The ever-changing world and its unravelling are unparalleled and mind-boggling. AI is already being used to evaluate the suitability of candidates before and after they are interviewed, and is able to trawl the internet with a fine toothcomb, which helps the recruitment “bots” to narrow down to a shortlist the most viable applicants for any given job or contract.
- Beating the Bully
Focusing on bullying in the workplace, Liezel shares tips on how to spot the office tyrant from a mile away and avoid being the target of their meanness. In essence she helps victims find their voice again to get the recognition they deserve.
“The Office Bully is a genius: it’s all smoke and mirrors… from a great fake relationship with the boss, knowing the minimal amount to be done to get away with it and thriving on your pain. But inside the bully lives a very insecure person taking it out on you.”
- Finding your inner strength
How many times have you just let a secret dream go, just because it seemed unreachable? And when you actually took the brave step to tell someone what you’d like to do, they agreed that it was completely crazy. Well, it’s time you took a different approach! In this talk, Liezel draws on her personal experiences to help others avoid both naysayers and niggling self-doubt in the fearless pursuit of those impossible seeming goals.
“Set your goals and work at it, each and every day. Don’t stop until it’s done.”
Away from the microphones and cameras, Liezel continues to give back in various ways that have an important impact on the world around her.
She keeps a healthy fitness regime, training six times a week from Stand Up Paddling; cycling to swimming in the ocean daily Using her sporting activities to achieve good in the world, Liezel was the first person to cycle a bicycle powered by social media through the CT Cycle tour and used the funds raised through this project to assist Velokhaya cycling academy (in Khayelitsha) with new bicycles.
Liezel undertook a tandem cycle across the Himalayas in 2018, with a visually impaired athlete, to raise funds for Operation Smile and OneSight.
They covered the mean distance of 550km in 10 days at altitudes of up to 18 330 feet.
She describes it as that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event that cyclists around the world dream of. The expedition started at Manali, which is known as the door to the heaven of the Himalayas! It makes you cross five passes with a maximum altitude of 5602 metres reached at Khardung La.
Both being extremely passionate about philanthropy, the two had decided to use the event to raise funds for two medical charities namely Operation Smile South Africa and OneSight. The former is dedicated to providing free surgery to children and adults born with cleft lip and/or cleft palate, while the latter provides refractive error services and prescription spectacles to people without access to affordable vision care.
“This ride was about more than ourselves. We wanted to find a way to make a real difference with every pedal stroke and so it was a natural decision to support these two incredible charities who essentially give people their smiles and help others see them," explains van der Westhuizen.
Positive and Encouraging
This humble, energetic and deep-thinking personality will undoubtedly continue to grab each opportunity that life presents, while changing lives and bringing joy on her daily journey.
She’s a walking ray of sunshine and always portrays a positive and encouraging vision for the future of our country, it’s people and its development.
She is the epitome of kindness, hope and South African success!