Gwen Watkins has been a news writer since 1981 when she joined Thompson Publications as editor of Plastics & Rubber News, from the plastics industry.
She was the first woman in South Africa to obtain a Certificate in Plastics Technology and the second woman to be made a Fellow of the Plastics Institute of Southern Africa. She was one of the few women to rep in the gold mining industry, selling zinc dust to gold refractory plants.
She has completed her Practitioner and Master Practitioner NLP course under the auspices of the Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Southern Institute in Florida USA.
In 2004, she completed the Coaching Genius training through the International Society of Neuro-Semantics and X-Sim – Managing by Project through X-Pert Training Academy.
As part of her firm’s social responsibility programme, Gwen assists emerging small companies with their marketing needs.
Gwen has mentored emerging companies on their marketing and media liaison needs. These include Hope Madikane-Otto & Associates, winner of the 1997 Lebone Award for small enterprises, G O Secretarial Services, an EnterPrize Business Plan 2000 finalist, Stretch-A-Tac, a winner in EnterPrize Business Plan 2001, Able Easy, an EnterPrize Business Plan 2002 finalist and Rupert’s Honey, the EnterPrize Business Plan 2003 winner of the export prize of R150 000.
The EnterPrize Business Plan Competition, the job creation project introduced by the National Business Initiative (NBI), Telkom and McKinsey & Company, aimed to attract business ideas from prospective entrepreneurs. Through coaching, lectures and networking, skilled people were assisted in turning those ideas into fundable business plans. The competition ran from 2000-2002.
She has been a mentor with Raizcorp, a privately run business incubator designed to assist entrepreneurs, and a mentor with Umsobomvu Fund, Business Development Services Unit Mentorship Programme.
Gwen was part of the SAACI Mentorship Programme, a six-month programme from March to September 2018, which provided weekly guidance to newer members of the Association. She continued this mentorship into 2019.
In 2019 and 2020, Gwen presented an introduction to Starting a Small Business to emerging goat and chicken farmers in Gaborone, Botswana. Each participant received a training manual. This manual has subsequently been translated into Setswana.
Many of Gwen’s conferences, events and exhibitions students have used her advice to start up their own event management businesses and she maintains regular contact with past full-time and part-time students.
Before moving to Botswana, Gwen was a Services chapter member of SAACI (Southern African Association for the Conference Industry), a sub-committee member of SANS 10366: Health & Safety at Live Events (South African Bureau of Standards), a committee member of Women in Finance, a committee member of the South African Chapter of Ellevate LLC and a committee member of South African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA), having joined in 2009.
In August 2012, she was invited to be a member of the South African Science Journalists’ Association (SASJA), a non-profit, non-governmental, national organisation, which serves as a means for science communicators and journalists from around the country to share in the mutual benefits of a national professional organisation.
In April 2014, Gwen was invited to join the Oversight Committee of SAFREA. She was re-elected in April 2015 and April 2016. She was again invited to join Oversight in October 2017, stepping down in November 2018. She was made an honorary SAFREA member in September 2020. Gwen joined the National Press Club of South Africa in July 2017. She was a member the Fellow of the Commonwealth Communicators Organisation, London in 2019.
Gwen has chaired the following events:
- ‘Managing Disabilities in the Workplace’ on behalf of IQ-Xptiz
- ‘South African Labour Law Practice’ workshop on behalf of Marcus Evans Events
- ‘Women in Africa – working together’ on behalf of Women in Finance, 85 Broads and ACCA
- Johannesburg leg of the ‘Yente Mission to South Africa’
- ‘Stand up and be counted’ for Women in Finance
- MC for Women in Finance monthly ‘Hot Tables’ networking dinners 2010-2011 (now known as Business Engage)