24 June 2007

NEGLECTED HUSBAND - Sunday, 24 June 2007
Well, I think most of our lady scrappers tend to neglect the male generation when creating layouts. I'm for one, are quite guilty. But, on the other hand, we cannot be blamed all together. Where have you ever found a husband or any male for that matter who willingly and keenly pose for a shot.
So, when hubby asked me to take some portrait shots of him for a website his in the process of creating, I grabbed the opportunity to create a quilt layout with some of the shots and called it 'EXPRESSIONS OF CONROY'.
Hubby has also written his autobiography for a project his currently doing with The Graduate School of Business' in Cape Town. For me, it made quite interesting reading and reminded me of some facts distant in memory. I incorporated his autobiography as a pull-out page behind the above layout's right hand page. Here's the autobiography:
"Autobiography of Conroy Fourie: Born 12 January 1961
The Early Years…
My mom (Marie) and dad (Coen) married in Oudtshoorn, and soon thereafter moved to a small mining town on the Cape Westcoast called Kleinzee. My older sister Louise was born on 18 November 1959 and I was born on 12 January 1961 in Kleinzee. I also have a younger brother Leon, and a younger sister, Moira, born in July 1963 and February 1967 respectively.
During our formative years we relocated frequently, first to Oranjemund, another small diamond town in the southern part of Namibia. When I was 6 or 7 years old we moved to Oudsthoorn and when I was 9 we moved to a small town in the Eastern Cape called Uitenhage.
We always had a very tightknit family unit, within our immediate family and also with our extended family relations.
My School Years
After initially moving a few times during my “Sub A to Standard 1” school years I spent most of my primary school career at Innes Primary in Uitenhage from middle Standard 1 to Standard 5. I chose to enrol at the local “Acadamically Orientated” secondary school in Uitenhage and started Standard 6 in January 1974. During my Matric year, I managed to secure a place on the Veld & Vlei Leadership Adventure School held close to the Wilderness on the Garden Route. This leadership school took place during the winter school break in 1978 and was for a full 3 weeks. A vivid experience that I believe played a strong role in some of my later decisions in life. It really taught me a lot about myself, and what I was capable of. I passed my Matric with full university exemption and a “C” average.
National Service…
Oblivious to the political environment of the time I complied with the formalities of the day, registered, and was instructed to join the army for two years’ compulsory National Service in January 1979. I was allocated to the support corps - the Army Chef School. After basics and the Chef’s course, I volunteered to join 1 Parachute Batallion in Bloemfontein. I had the notion to do the qualifying course for Parachute Training but never pursued this further once at the unit. The association with an elite army unit rubbed off even on the support staff in the base and we were subjected to excellent discipline and built a really good spirit. We worked extremely hard and maintained excellent standards.
During 1980, my second and last year of national service, I firmed my plans to go to university and enrolled for a degree in commerce, with Professional Accountancy (CA route) as the major discipline, at the University of Port Elizabeth.
Although UPE was only 30km or so from my parents’ home, I elected to stay in university residence. This was a great time of my life. I had a close circle of friends that worked hard but also played hard. I was probably top 20% in my class most subjects. In addition to the academic and social life, I played a lot of sport socially and formally. Eventually I redirected my degree majors and settled on Accounting and Business Economics rather than following the CA route.
The largely carefree first year continued into the second year, especially now that I was a senior in the residence. At the start of my third year, on Valentine’s Day 1983, our flat entertained a ladies residence flat and I met my lovely wife-to-be Desíre. This serious-looking lady with her white windbreaker sitting around the fire with her friends really was a sight to behold. My varsity life and beyond changed forever. We got engaged December 17th 1983; I was a mere 22 years old and she 19!! I still remember my future father in law going silent when I asked him if I could marry her…he must have thought we were too young! We got married 30 November 1984 and I received my B.Com degree in December 1984.
My Professional Career…
Towards the end of my fourth year, as I prepared for the responsibilities of marriage, I started working for my “part” university sponsor, Goodyear Tyre & Rubber Company, in their finance division at Head Office in Port Elizabeth, as accountant, on 17 September 1984. An interesting conversation just prior to me starting was with the HR manager and he asked me something to this effect: “you won’t have a problem reporting to a coloured person?” I was bemused – suffice to say, Len Van Wyk (“The Coloured”) and I had a magnificent relationship. We had many discussions about our individual experiences and built an excellent rapport. I attended his wedding roundabout 1986 or 1987 in one of the “coloured” townships and what an experience this was. We got lost driving to the church and had to ask a few of the local residents the way – as I opened the car window I heard one of the children in the street with eyes widening saying something like: “hier’s wittes!! (here are whites!!)”.
While at Goodyear I completed a B.Com Honours in business economics and in my last year at Goodyear (1988) started my MBL masters (MBA) through Unisa’s School of Business Leadership. I finished this degree while at Toyota. To meet my aspirations to move into a General Management career path, I joined Toyota SA Marketing (1989) after nearly five years at Goodyear.
At Toyota, I spend most of my ten years’ tenure in a Dealer Development capacity, in various managerial roles. I received several promotions, relocated to Pretoria (1991 December) and gained extensive experience in General Management. After ten years at Toyota, I felt that to stimulate further career growth, I needed to expand my horizons and take charge of the redefinition of my career. As I had an interest in Information Technology, when an opportunity arose, I accepted a position as Project Manager at Kerridge Computer Company in their Motor Dealer Management Systems division (1999). At the time, it was my view that the IT industry offered an interesting career option, and the move to Kerridge allowed me to pursue this while at the same time remaining close to the Motor Industry.
In 2001, Shell approached me to join Shell Autoserv as General Manager. This opportunity offered me great scope to leverage my General Management career in a key area of the Motor Industry, after-sales service. I joined Shell Autoserv in December 2001, and as a result of this appointment relocated to Durban. While working at Kerridge I started a Masters in IT through the University of Pretoria which I completed in 2003 while at Shell Autoserv.
As a result of a Shell Group portfolio decision, the local Shell Autoserv business has been made available for sale in April 2005. After a deal failure in October 2006, I was asked to take over the divestment project management role. I successfully negotiated a sale of the branches of the business at 30 April 2007.
Desíre and I, A Partnership For Life…
Desíre and I have been together for 24 years, and our bond is now as strong as ever. We have not been blessed with children, but with one another. She is the most supportive, loving, loyal person. We enjoy being together and doing hikes or just breaking away for the odd getaway to preferably somewhere in a mountain. We have done some major multi-day hikes such as the Outeniqua (1995), Swellendam (1998), Fishriver Canyon (2002), Otter (2004), Tsitsikamma (2005) and numerous smaller hikes in between. From about 1995 to 2001, while in Pretoria, we were regular road runners; however, the move to Durban has broken the cycle we were in then. Now we particpate in road runs (jogs/walks) irregularly and go to gym occassionally.
Seminal Events…
1. Choosing my secondary school to be an academic track as opposed to a technical track stimulated my university career and subsequent professional general managerial career.
2. Securing a place on the Veld & Vlei Leadership Adventure School during my matric year – an intense physical and psychological experience that taught me a lot about myself, and what I was capable of.
3. Attending University and the resultant stimulus for lifelong learning that this exposure left me with.
4. Meeting Desíre and getting married; apart from the wonderful richness of our personal relationship I also gained parents-in-law that added immense quality of life to me.
5. Joining Toyota and subsequently relocating to Gauteng from Port Elizabeth. This consolidated my career decision to be in general management rather than in a finance specialist role.
6. Leaving Toyota to stimulate further career growth was the right strategy but joining Kerridge was the wrong implementation and a sobering experience. This move subsequently led to my career at Shell Autoserv and relocation to Durban. Furthermore, the move from Toyota (in 1999) stimulated nine years of introspection and an examination of my leadership style – an exciting although sometimes daunting journey.
7. A Shell Group portfolio decision (April 2005) to divest the Autoserv business unit in South Africa and my decision to stay with the business to influence a positive divestment outcome. This lead to a period of intense emotional roller coasters and culminating in a successful sale of the branches of the business but the closure of the head office with the resultant redundancy of head office colleagues including myself.
Most Influential People In My Life…
1. My parents for teaching me sound life principles and values, supportive, encouraging, and for always seeing the good in everyone.
2. My life partner Desíre for being a natural peoples person, loving me unconditionally, supporting me, having a bias for action (as opposed to my sometimes analytical paralysis), being unselfish, demonstrating loyalty and commitment, and just for being there – by her actions she truly shows me how to enrich the lifes of others.
3. My first boss Len Van Wyk for demonstrating the true meaning of respect for diversity and thereby transferring the seeds of this quality to me.
4. My second boss Harold Barnard, my first “unintended” mentor and coach, amongst others for demonstrating the qualities of a truly people and team focused leadership to me in my early career.
5. Brand Pretorius, an icon in the motor industry – for being a role model for inspirational and charismatic leadership.
6. To all the people that I had the privilege to interact with in the past and for those I will interact with in the future - for the richness of experience and learning this brought to me and will bring to me in future."
- Wife with Pampered Hubby Signing Off


  1. Wow Desire, firstly a lovely layout and secondly what a MAN! You have always said that Conroy is a special person to you and reading his autobiography, you can see why.

    Conroy, your autobiography shows that while it is about you, it is also about others in your life and how much you care for them. All the best in your endeavours - you are and will be a great success and an inspiration to many others.


  2. Hello Desire,

    Very clever of you to nab some of these photos to create such a wonderful layout of your husband! And thank you for sharing his autobiography with us :-)

    Thanks also for your lovely words on my blog,
    Megan xx

  3. Beautiful layout... Love how you got all those photos on, once again... gorgeous...
    I must say that my husband would never ever type this out or have so much to say!! you're blessed!


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