Robert Green has not had it easy in life. The road to success was long and challenging, but perseverance has paid off and today the 41-year-old CEO of Real Promotions is on his way to building his own empire.
When you sign the security book at the entrance to his office building, you will note that many of the entries in the book are interviewees arriving at Real Promotions in the hope of training and employment. Real Promotions trains more than two hundred people monthly and creates work for various South-Africans.
The philosophy at Real Promotions is that one cannot climb the corporate ladder if one has not started at the bottom, and that bottom is on foot, in the field. That is where Green started his own career, and that is what he teaches the young people knocking on his door for work and opportunities. Green started by walking the streets on foot with a bag of Chinese-made toys, selling it from door to door. He eventually worked himself up into the structure of the company he was working for and became a manager. Soon he headed a department of four hundred people. After a fall-out with his company on certain financial inaccuracies, Green hit rock bottom and ended in rehab, during which time he also went through a divorce.
This however did not bring him down – on the contrary – he bounced back with more experience and drive. He launched Real Promotions, and all four hundred of the employees working for him at his previous company followed him to Real Promotions.
It was not an easy start, but clients started approaching Real Promotions and today the company is still expanding into the marketing- and promotions space, having just set up a national call center and opening offices in Durban and Cape-Town. Women head both these offices. Green says that most of his senior employees are female and that he feels strong about empowering women. As he says, when it comes to gender equality, South-Africa still has a long way to go. That is why he decided to become part of the Sun International Pink Stick campaign. Green feels that the inequality women experience in sport is embarrassing.
“I have walked the road with men, and I have seen young men trying to make it in the men’s tournaments. They struggled. I know the struggles everywhere, so, it’s not like it’s only tough in women’s golf, it is as tough in men’s golf to break trough. But I believe that once you break through, there needs to be some sort of award. I think places like Europe is far ahead of South-Africa; their female players receive good prize money. South Africa is not there yet. If one looks at the current situation, for example, the Olympics, the ladies are coming through. The problem is there is no money backing them. There are not enough corporates getting involved in driving women’s sport.”
Green added that the Unimedia and Sun International Pink Stick campaign is long overdue and that more players in the private sector should become involved.
“If we drive the funding in the right way and the money goes where it is supposed to go, there is no way that women cannot succeed. We want to get more ladies to more tournaments, here and in the international scene.”
Back at Real Promotions the office is abuzz with women running around and answering phone calls and emails. And as it is with any male success story, there is always a strong woman behind him. In Green’s case, there are a few.
Robyn Green, Robert’s sister, manages the company’s HR department, while his supporting wife, Stephany, leads the marketing team. His daughter, Dee, who is taking her Gap-year, is assisting the front of house staff, although she herself had to start by knocking on doors selling things to people. Green lives with his wife and three children in Northriding, Johannesburg.
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Anina Peens (@aninapeens) | Twitter