SALDRU’s core administrative team is made up of two Office Administrators (Amy Jephthah and Toni Arendse) and myself (Tania Hendricks), the Operations and Finance Manager. The team currently takes care of the financial and administrative needs of 20 active grants and projects, and ensures that the unit’s operations are running smoothly. With this number of projects to support, the ability to work in an ever-changing and highly pressurized environment is required. The team strives to provide high levels of service to the internal SALDRU team and our funders, by constantly trying to improve our processes and standards. J-PAL Africa, housed within SALDRU, has its own amazing administrative team. This article focuses on getting to know the core staff that take care of the running of the unit.
The roles of the Office Administrators include being the “face” of the unit; welcoming staff and visitors to the unit. They also take care of the unit’s finance and HR administration, travel arrangements, refreshments, arranging events, and any other administrative functions that need to be performed in the unit.
As the Operations and Finance Manager for the unit, my role is split into two aspects. Firstly, managing the space, operations, and finances for the unit. In doing so, I ensure that all the needs of the researchers and administrators are met, and I try to create an inclusive environment for those that walk the SALDRU passages. Secondly, I manage the finances and grants for the projects and interface with the rest of the university, to ensure that our contracts and financial obligations are met.
Amy has been with SALDRU since 2016, starting in a contract position on the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Wave 4 and Wave 5 projects. In 2017 Amy moved into the SALDRU core admin space, as the unit was reevaluating its administrative needs. In 2019 Amy became a permanent staff member of the SALDRU team and has flourished in her position, continuing to deliver exceptional service to the team. Before starting at SALDRU, Amy was a Hair Stylist Apprentice and then managed a hair salon for three years. She started her administration journey in a temporary position with the School of Economics administrative department, before she was poached for the NIDS projects.
Amy’s attention to detail comes through in her outside interests. She is an avid baker, creating delicious and beautiful cakes for weddings and birthdays. She is a creative spirit, which is often evidenced when planning SALDRU events. This blend of creativity, care, and perfectionism provides a well-rounded level of ability that we need in the unit.
Amy and her partner are recent first-time homeowners, a very exciting development in their life journey. She has a love for plants, which is shown through how she cares for and often
rescues the plants around the office, as well as a growing garden in her new home.
Toni’s journey in SALDRU started recently. She works in a contract position split between SALDRU core and the Basic Package of Support project administration. Shestarted in September 2021, when her contract with the University of Cape Town (UCT) School of Economics administrative department came to an end.
Toni has survived breast cancer twice! She is proud of her journey and where she is today. Her first diagnosis was in 2017 and then again in 2020. She had her final treatment in April 2021 and has been in remission ever since. This battle and drive have followed her into her work life, as she shows a determination to succeed. Now she is a mom of a little boy and a wife. In her spare time, she enjoys watching series and sleeping – well deserved down time.
Prior to working at UCT, Toni worked as a Video Editor for the Expresso Morning Show for five years, leaving due to retrenchment.
My first position in SALDRU was with the NIDS project in a contract post in 2010 as an Office Administrator, in a role very much like those of Amy and Toni. After leaving to a permanent position, I returned to the NIDS project as a Finance and Administrative Officer in 2012. In 2016, the SALDRU core Administrative Officer retired, and I was appointed in her position. Since then, the position has evolved and grown, along with the unit, leading to my regrade in 2021 to the Operations and Finance Manager.
Prior to working at UCT, I taught grade 1 for three years until I realized that this was not my passion and pursued a different career path. I went on to study again. I believe that one should never stop learning, and recently submitted my final research paper for a master’s degree in Public Policy and Practice.
Outside of work, I am a mom to an 18-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, and a wife. They take up most of my spare time, but I do try to run when I can; half marathons are my biggest achievement in this area.
I hope that this article has given you more insight into the little team that is the core SALDRU administration staff. It’s a busy job that we do, requiring multi-tasking skills, problem-solving abilities and fast legs as we zoom around the office. So, when you are next queueing for your coffee in the morning, think about the person that made sure that the beans are filled and the machine is serviced for your first cuppa every day.