When asked questions about her work life, Mariana Lamont’s every word is spoken carefully for maximum impact and her answers are threaded with the kind of inspirational statements that define a person destined for leadership.
On memories of the early days of her career Lamont responds, “I remember always working hard, pushing and exceeding deadlines, the adrenalin of achievement, enjoying the successes and going for the next level.”
It is this resolute work ethic that has contributed to her meteoric rise in her chosen field.
Starting her career at Map Studio as a sales representative, it took Lamont just two years before she was promoted to regional sales manager. She stayed in that position for seven years and her next job defined her work life and was to be the launch pad into her current position.
While technically a sideways move in terms of position, her role at Ocon Brick as regional sales manager meant that Lamont was working for a much larger company and it is where she took her first steps into the clay brick market. She spent 14 years there but her passion for the construction industry is clearly as keen now as it was when she first joined Ocon Brick.
“I’ve always been a marketer at heart and the construction industry is very rewarding. You help people build their new, dream home, new business or new property investment. Clay brick making is particularly exciting right now, it’s a 2 000-year-old skill that has been transformed in the past 20 years as new technology and our understanding of the environment evolves,” she enthuses.
Lamont stepped into her current role in January 2018 and she couldn’t imagine – as a young ‘small town’ girl – that she would be where she is today.
“I’m the traditional small town girl – I was raised with good Christian values in a semi-rural community bordering the Vaal River between Gauteng and the Free State. It was a wonderful place to grow up where children learned to live close to nature, to respect their elders and work hard with integrity. My parents encouraged us to always do our best – for God, for ourselves and for others,” she explains.
Despite being a world away from that small community, the foundation of growing up there has stood her in good stead as it has helped her to forge her way forward with determination and integrity. Among her educational achievements, she studied marketing management at the Vaal University of Technology and Unisa.
“I struggle to recall any lowlights, I believe that every storm has its rainbow, so in life I always focus on positive outcomes. A lowlight is just a learning curve – you don’t fail until you give up!” she says explaining that, looking back, she would not do anything differently.
“It probably sounds like a cliché but I would change nothing. Everything is a learning experience and you can’t jump to the end. Don’t underestimate the importance of struggle and the discipline you learn by going forward step-by-step.”
Lamont credits the people around her for her positive outlook and the fact that she has always enjoyed her work.
“Today’s footprint is tomorrow’s legacy.”
“Always do what makes you happy. The construction industry is hands-on, so if you are thinking of entering this sector learn from the bottom up, listen to advice and never underestimate the power of a mentor,” Lamont says.
“I have been lucky with the remarkable clients that I worked with over the years. They supported me with well wishes and compliments when I accepted my new role at the CBA. We keep in touch and they still call me for advice and a chat,” she says, before identifying one person who had a particular impact on her.
“One of my most inspiring mentors is Ray Wilkinson, CEO and founder of MapIT. I will always remember his advice to me, ‘Mariana, enjoy work, work hard but never neglect your family as a result’. His wisdom has stayed with me, and it helps me maintain a balance between my career and my family.
“Making time is the most important aspect of a balanced family life. Our family is very active and we love the outdoors. I spoil them with a coffee in bed every morning and we take turns cooking dinner during the week, which frees up time for us to relax after work,” she says, adding that she enjoys every aspect of her home life from supporting her son or daughter on the sports field on Saturday mornings to relaxing at home.
“We make long weekends count and as an outdoor family we enjoy camping; it refreshes the mind, body and soul to sit next to a fire and share our ideas, dreams and goals,” she says.
Somehow, she also finds time for reading and baking and often rises early on weekends to bake biscuits or rusks.
Lamont says that in the end it comes down to one simple philosophy that links all the aspects of her life from family to the CBA.
“Today’s footprint is tomorrow’s legacy – we must acknowledge that each of us has an impact on the natural world and our communities; it is our responsibility to ensure that our impact is a beneficial one. I am proud to play a role in the continued and steady improvement in the economic and environmental sustainability of the clay brick sector in South Africa,” she adds.