From a very young, Lerato Makoropo had to learn to navigate her way through overwhelming challenges. Her past experiences, though painful and arduous, empowered her to develop new perspectives on life—her determination and desire to give other people a renewed sense of hope are what make her perfect for her role as Montecasino’s HR manager.

 

A Life of Many Trials and Greater Victories

Lerato’s story begins in Duduza, a township not too far from Nigel, where she lived with her parents and extended family. Despite being surrounded by relatives, her home wasn’t a safe place—for three years of her life, she was subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of one of her cousins. When Lerato finally mustered the courage to open up to her family about the abuse, it tore the family apart. Her father buried the truth in a desperate attempt to keep the family together, and when his efforts proved futile, he turned to alcohol and eventually abandoned the family. Left with no support, Lerato’s mother resolved to leave the township and find ways to build a better life for Lerato and her younger siblings.

Despite the childhood trauma and financial difficulties, Lerato managed to become a high-achieving scholar. After years of studying, she reaped the benefits of her studiousness and diligence. While studying towards a National Diploma in Labour Relations, Lerato received the Student of the Year Award at the Vaal University of technology. The following year, she studied towards a BTech, majoring in Labour Law and Labour Relations. Subsequent studying has seen her achieve a Certificate in Employee Wellness and a BCom Honours in HR.

 

“I love how my job exposes me to a diverse spectrum of people and cultures"

 

Reaping the Rewards of Determination

Lerato’s first job was in the marketing department at Emperor’s Palace. To get her foot in the door, she started as a promotions coordinator and did so well that she was asked her to stay on, but the HR bug had bitten—she became a graduate trainee and worked her way up to HR Consultant. After her time at Emperor’s Palace, Lerato worked for Edcon and Itec, before joining Tsogo Sun. In January 2012, she worked as the HR Manager at Gold Reef City, where she managed a team of four with a company headcount of 400 employees. In 2014, she joined the Montecasino team. She currently manages a team of 10.

Lerato’s love for human resources, her work ethic and resolve to overcome have contributed to her making great strides in her career. “I love how my job exposes me to a diverse spectrum of people and cultures, while allowing me the freedom to be innovative. It is also one of those jobs where you can really see the evidence of the difference you are making and how you are impacting other people’s lives in a positive and fulfilling way.”

As a mother of two boys, aged 11 and six, Lerato is also aware that she is far more protective than she would have been had she not suffered the childhood abuse. “I may be over-protective, but I am also aware that, too often, the signs are missed, and parents dismiss their children’s withdrawal or misbehaviour as normal, rather than as an indication that something is wrong in their lives—such as abuse or bullying.”

Overall, Lerato’s life experiences have given her a strong sense of self, of empathy, of humour, and of the value of helping others reach their potential. Today, she is a self-proclaimed “colourful personality with a passion for life”, and an overcomer who has the capacity and skills to share her life lessons to help others on their own journeys.