Cynthia Jones born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She worked as a banker at some of the most reputable banks in Zimbabwe, some of which are Banc Abc and Nedbank, until she found her passion in 2006, which is baking.
She never took qualifications in baking or culinary art, rather, she studied Marketing at the University of South Africa. Cynthia is a mother of 2 boys, and she holds 2 awards with Megafest Business Awards held in Zimbabwe.
In this article, she shares her experience switching careers and learning to manage a diverse team.
I started off with part-time baking after work and weekends, and because I love baking, I wanted to do give my all, and I gave myself 5 years to make it work and if it didn’t I would go back to full-time employment.
It’s 6 years to the day I left employment and I am happy I did. Now I do what I am passionate about and get paid for it too. I bake for all occasions and have also started teaching baking as well and specialize in cake art.
What are the Dos and Donts’ of transitioning
Do what you are passionate about and give it your all.
Do a SWAT analysis of the business you want to do first.
I knew baking was for me because it calms me. I can wake up a 3 am and still enjoy doing what I do
Not to do:
Don’t just jump into a business because it worked for someone else
Don’t expect someone to do it for you. You have to be there 24/7 for the business to work. Not just delegating.
How did your prior work experience help in building your brand?
My experience as an employee helped me understand and appreciate the team that I have. Also, working in a bank was definitely an advantage as it has helped me understand my business and be able to manage and multi-task.
I am where I am because of the experience I got from there.
How have you managed to work with diverse teams?
I have grown up in a diverse community learning with people from all walks of life so it has been easy for me to deal with diverse culture.
My husband is Welsh (England). Which made me appreciate people from all over which helps me to able to deal with my clients and their cultural differences by doing so they appreciate my efforts.
Having worked in different sectors and finally finding passion in baking, what are your major tips to managing a diverse team?
Managing a diverse team is all about understanding the unique attributes that individuals respectively possess.
It is about taking note and recognizing contributions made by different people and understanding the different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs, once a leader understands this, the work environment becomes conducive.
Here are some steps you can take to managing a diverse team:
1. Make sure that your employees feel valued and included in planning which in turn leads to more contributions from them.
2. Getting to know each of your employees as an individual. Recognize each person’s unique talents and abilities.
3. Communicate with each employee and always giving back feedback.
4. Treat each of your employees fairly and equally.
5. Make sure that each person is participating equally on the team.
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Evonne Mudzingwa is a Group fitness coach trained and certified in the Asia Pacific. She has been successful in completing several, marathons, ultra marathons including Two Oceans 56km and Comrades 90km medals.
She was born and bred in Chegutu, a small town in Zimbabwe and currently has two girls.
Eve decided to change her career in 2008 after she realized hiring a fitness coach for an event she was planning was expensive, she decided to equip herself with the skills in Fitness and exercise.
In 2008, Eve who was a professional at the time embarked on her career change in Malaysia and Singapore over a 10 year period. Here she was trained by LesMills International.
In her spare time, Eve loves to travel, Adrenaline sports like zip lining, bungee jumping, mountain climbing and riding her motorcycle.
In this article, she speaks about her early journey and her career as a fitness professional.
‘A friend recommended the LesMills Training as it was unique, there wasn’t anyone offering it in Zimbabwe and Southern. Africa back then, so I went for it,’ says Eve.
She went on to train as a Zumba instructor and personal instructor. She has Lesmills Certification in their training modules body combat, body step, body pump and RMP (studio cycling ).
Upon qualifying in Bodycombat, Eve realized that she needed experience and to acquire a clientele base before she could open her own establishment.
“I worked for a gym in Harare(Borrowdale Brooke) for 2 months thereafter I got my experience and enough clientele.
This experience gave me a glimpse of the void in the fitness industry. This gap was a center that understood and identified with the average, conservative voluptuous Zimbabwean woman.
This is what inspired me to open what initially was a Ladies only fitness center. The traditional gym was too intimidating and male-focused, ignoring the minority female gym goers. I wanted to bring a more personal approach to the fitness world,” she continued.
Eve states she looked around for space to establish her own center, then she came across a small building in a Sports club which had not been last used for 25years as a rugby changing room and was almost dilapidating.
“I contacted the property owners and asked to refurbish it, they were shocked but it worked. I used it for free for the first 6 months. With this, Eve’s Fitness Studios was born.
Classes commenced in April 2009 hand the studio has evolved and grown over the past 10 years with our 10th anniversary coming up this April 2019”.
Eve’s Fitness Brand established in 2009 now encompasses the Eve fitness Studios – a quaint little fitness center that offers various training programmes. It also has Eve’s Fitness Battles, Eves Wine Dash Series – a lifestyle series in partnership Bushman Rock.
Eves 10km Obstacle Race Series molded on the Spartan Race Series and Vainona Running Club which hosts trademark runs namely Eve’s Mazoe Hotel Run and Eve’s Pink Marathon to raise funds for Cancer. And recently Eve’s Fitness Training – a fitness training center for aspiring Group Fitness Instructors.
Some of her achievements…
Evonne Mudzingwa has been awarded several awards including Women Excel top 100 most successful businesswomen in 2018, ZNCC Service Industry Award, Award for Women who Roar in their Industry and Shero Women Entrepreneurship Awards.
On how body maintenance helps in day to day productivity as an entrepreneur…
A healthy, fit entrepreneur is more alert and focused. Exercise releases endorphins which leave one feeling happier and more energetic. It also boosts one’s self-esteem, an important requirement in anyone in business.
As for me, I keep fit by doing 2hours of training every day and a 5km run on a daily basis.
My diet mostly consists of organic, high fiber food which I mainly pan-fry or boil, lots of fruits and vegetables, fish & chicken with beef or pork once a week. I also love herbal teas and snack on our mutakura (mixed boiled grains).
On how a career woman can balance between the gym, work and family life…
One only requires just a minimum of thirty minutes of exercise a day out of the 24 hours. A family working woman can go to the gym early morning whilst the household sleeps or soon after work.
Every woman needs this Metime to exhale, regroup and be a better mother, wife, and employer. I believe people make time for the things they deem important in life, one just needs to decide that their health is a priority.
There is always time.
On dispelling the societal notion that the gym is for rich people or luxurious activity…
Contrary to that misconception of the gym is an elite activity. Exercise is an important aspect of total wellness.
Understandably gyms are beyond most people’s budgets but there are various cheaper ways of exercising. Running and bodyweight strength training exercises do not cost anything and can be done anywhere.
On providing special sessions for pregnant women and people recovering from injury…
Our Programmes cater to various fitness levels including pregnant and recuperating clients. We offer options relevant to the clients special condition.
It is actually encouraged for women to train throughout their pregnancies. The ambiance at our studio inspires and motivates everyone to not give up.
I also have personal relationships with my clients making it easy to encourage them from losing their mojo.
On the Myth that frequent Gym Exercise makes women look masculine…
The myth that exercise and strength training, in particular, makes females look masculine has sadly been around for the longest time and strongly believed.
There are various kinds of training programmes to achieve different results. There are those women who actually choose to build a masculine look, these are usually bodybuilders and professional figure athletes.
To look that masculine however these women have to be on specific training programmes, restricted diet and taking the relevant supplements.
A woman just exercising is incapable of looking masculine as the female body does not have sufficient protein to build that much muscle.
Women fearing to look masculine should shy away from using heavy weights but instead opt for lighter weights but doing plenty repetitions of the same exercise. At Eve’s Fitness Studios we offer a variety of training programmes that complement each other for that balance total body workout to get a lean, fit and toned body.
Advice for women in exercise and fitness programs…
“Fitness is not a size”.
There is this sad notion that if people are skinny then they don’t have to exercise or are automatically fitter than the bigger people. You can be a skinny unfit person, we call this skinny fat.
Equally a person can be of big built but fit. One’s lifestyle is what determines their fitness levels.
Women should support each other in business. I faced less support when I started my fitness Studios and had to work extra hard to show that what I do is the same or better than in male-led fitness Studios.
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