Brenda Vilbro - You only get one chance to live this life, so live it to the fullest

Brenda Vilbro
Brenda Vilbro - Director at New Generation Skills

BRENDA VILBRO's career in learning and development which has been driven by a passion for people resulted in the esta-blishment of New Generation Skills in 2005. The company has a strong family ethos with both her son and mother involved, respectively, in administration and financial management. Brenda's role includes setting the standards, marketing and the deve-lopment of her people.

After several years teaching maths and science, an opportunity arose for Brenda to follow her heart, which she says she 'jumped at'. At that time, schools had become multicultural and she saw a need to train teachers to be better prepared to meet the changing needs of the classroom.

Education management

Brenda worked in the NGO sector teaching adults for a period of five years during which time she com-pleted a master's degree in education management. "I then began freelancing as a facilitator with a focus on leadership and management programmes, so the next step was to open my training company."

New Generation Skills was accredited as a training provider with the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) and is now registered with the Department of Higher Education to remain compliant with legislation requirements.

During her early years, call centre training was in demand and her facilitation in this field saw her being selected as the 2009 KZN Facilitator of the year by Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA). In addition, she received the 2009 BPESA National Facilitator of the year award. These awards, says Brenda, were among the highlights of her career.

The BPESA Awards provoked a request for her to provide more facilitator training which resulted in Brenda extending the scope of her accreditation to the Education, Training and Development Practices SETA. In turn, this accreditation led to her offering the full Occupationally Directed Education Training and Development Practices (ODETDP) qualification.

This accreditation has come with advantages. "Training facilitators allows me to handpick my team and we only use the best to ensure that the company maintains its high standards," says Brenda. "New Generation Skills prides ourselves on high energy, creative, and contemporary workshops that are delivered by professional facilitators who walk the talk."

"We are now accredited with a wide range of SETAs, because as we have grown as a company, so we have had to extend our scope across most industries," said Brenda.

Train from the heart

One of the challenges that Brenda faces is to en-courage companies to train from the heart and to send employees on training courses that are of value. "Often training is merely a tick the score card exercise in order to comply with legislation. New Generation Skills is relationship driven, we prefer to work closely with our clients, through a partnering approach, to identify skills that will develop people to fly."

Brenda commented she is inspired by the people that come on her training programmes. "Training is rewarding - it changes lives. When you see people grasp concepts, the lights come on, and they enjoy learning - this inspires me to help them to achieve their goals. Often, I have had people come to training believing that they won't succeed. I have been able to motivate them to work through a full qualification. I believe that my God given talent is that I have the power to motivate people. I have always tried to keep positive despite the negatives that happen around me. I am able to bring a smile to people's faces and instil hope in them because I am very hopeful."

Looking for new things to do

Brenda has a level of contentment for the distance that she has come but would like to grow further. "The company has a footprint in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg but I would like to see where the business can take us. Our vision is to be the training provider of choice though quality service delivery that inspires leaders and managers to maximise their potential."

"As I encourage our learners to be life-long learners, so I am myself a life-long learner, I certainly don't know it all. I am looking for new things to do and new ideas, because you are never too old to learn and develop yourself as a person." In reflecting on her journey, Brenda says that she has had her fair share of ups and downs. "There have been times when I have failed. I have had to pick myself up quickly because I have responsibilities..."

Speaking of the role of women in business, she says that the reality is that business is still dominated by men. "Women have to work much harder to be respected and to be taken seriously by men. We constantly have to prove ourselves, but we are just as capable of getting the respect of colleagues."

Significantly, New Generation Skills was awarded the eLan Property Group SMME Award at the 2019 Standard Bank KZN Top Business Awards.

Brenda's hard work is apparent in that she is up at 5am every morning. Her day starts with a gym session, which she says sets the tone for the day. "Our work is busy and very fast paced, and there is no real end to the day. There's always work to prepare for the next day." To achieve a work-life balance, Brenda makes sure that she finds time to relax on weekends, which is usually by taking leisurely walks on the beach and swimming.

If she could give advice to her younger self, she would say: "You only get one chance to live this life, so live it to the fullest, and whatever happiness means to you, chase it."

Brenda Vilbro

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