Sales champion’s meteoric rise

By Warren Robertson

Charlene Joubert’s rise to one of the top positions at Dutton Plastics Engineering has been absolutely meteoric. At just 33 years old, Joubert has recently been promoted again and is now national sales and marketing director for the company.

Self-effacing and humble Joubert smiles as she describes the fact that she received a technical matric, and fully intended becoming a draughtsman before she fell into the sales department at Dutton as a junior sales rep in 2008. By 2011, she was regional sales manager before she started becoming more heavily involved in the marketing side of the business and was soon put in charge of marketing, too.

“I don’t really miss the technical side at all. Being in sales has been something of a calling,” Joubert says.

Charlene JoubertShe admits, though, that from time to time her husband will come home from work to find her, paintbrush in hand, embarking on a new project around the house, and while she says her drilling has been known to strike electrical cables and pipes, her home DIY projects have been enough to keep the yearning to work with her hands at bay.

Charlene Joubert, national sales and marketing director at Dutton Plastics Engineering. Credit: Dutton

Joubert’s rise through the ranks at Dutton is seemingly not uncommon at the company, where Joubert guesses the average length of service is about 17 years.

“Dutton is really good at promoting internally. All three of the branch managers in the sales team started out as reps themselves,” she explains, before going on to exalt the people who work in her team. “My sales team is amazing. Such a good group of people. I have been really lucky with whom I get to work with … just a brilliant group of people,” Joubert enthuses.

This appreciation for those who work under her is an ongoing theme of speaking with Joubert, who claims she devours three books a month, many on business, and company management. “I am a mom. So most of my spare time is spent on puzzles or playing with Lightning McQueen. I use my trip to and from work to listen to books on Audible,” she explains.

The books Joubert recommends all seem to unconsciously back her views on the importance of the entire team within an organisation, and assertions that a leader’s job is primarily to ensure that those below them are capable of doing their jobs within the bigger picture, as easily as possible.

She speaks glowingly of two books in particular, Start With Why by Simon Sinek, in which Sinek speaks to the subtle beating heart of an organisation by saying, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it,” and The Traveller’s Gift by Andy Andrews, in which a man visits several historical figures learning lessons around wisdom, self-responsibility, and realigning the mind for the future. “Both books have been so important to me when it comes to working out my role here at Dutton, and how I am able to affect change in a meaningful way,” says Joubert.

As someone who started just 10 years ago, never daring to think of senior management, Joubert’s ability to adapt to various scenarios and scale her ambitions to match have been among her greatest skills.

“When I started, I didn’t even know what kind of sales rep I was going to be. If you had asked me then if I wanted to be a director, I wouldn’t have been able to say yes or no ... You don’t know when you start what your skills are. But if you had asked me five years ago, I would have said yes,” she says, reflecting some of the decisiveness that Andrews speaks about in his book.

As someone who fervently believes in constant self-improvement, Joubert is currently studying a marketing degree, which she will complete early next year, but is already thinking about the next steps on her educational journey.

“My sales team is amazing. Such a good group of people. I have been really lucky with whom I get to work with.”

“I think it would be arrogant of anyone to get an education at 23 and then say, “Right, that’s enough. I have enough knowledge now for the next 42 years,” she laughs.

As for her future at Dutton, Joubert is certain she is not going anywhere. “I am proud of Dutton … This is a good company, with a good moral heart, and I absolutely love working with people that share my values,” she says, before explaining that there is still a lot she hopes to achieve at the firm.

“We are already tooling up for a number of new releases for next year, which, combined with some of the things I am not changing but sharpening, makes me very excited for 2019,” Joubert says, adding, “Times have been tough, there is no doubt, but going into these hardships, we have managed to keep every person that we had and we are proud of that. I think that means we are in a very strong position going forward now. We are hopeful. I am hopeful, and I am looking forward to it.”

Dutton has branches in Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth, in addition to agents operating in East London, Bloemfontein, and Namibia.

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