What Keeps Colleen Jacobs Engen Running

Colleen Jacobs, Chemicals and Special Products Manager of Engen Sales and Marketing Division, on achieving your goals.


Vital stats

  • Leader: Colleen Jacobs
  • Designation: Chemicals and Special Products Manager, Engen Sales and Marketing Division
  • Role: Responsible for national sales and marketing of the chemicals business, with a team of about 28 people, and within an organisation of more than 4 000.
  • Career: Started out as a science teacher, and then moved into the corporate world as a paint chemist, designing and developing products. Joined Engen as a territory manager for the Western Cape and has never looked back.

What makes your team successful?

It is the way we work together, which has a lot to do with the organisation’s corporate culture and values. Among our key values is collaboration; none of us work in isolation. We have all the support we require to accomplish our objectives and execute on the company goals.

Related: What Adding Value Means In Your Business Says Pedro Rhode

What’s your sales leadership style?

I do not separate my work life from my personal one. My purpose is to make a difference in the lives of others, and I try to do that in every sphere of my existence. I deliberately chose to be where I am as I believe in seizing the opportunities that life presents. I encourage others to grasp those with both hands.

Much of my attitude comes from being a teacher – when you enter a classroom, you have lots of kids looking at you and expecting that you will impart wisdom. The way you show up and what you do will impact them for the rest of their lives.

What advice do you have on achieving big goals?

Successful people stretch themselves. They set goals that take them to the next level in their lives and their work. I am not an athletic person, but I set myself the goal of completing the Two Oceans marathon. I surrounded myself with the right people, I found a coach I trusted, I committed to the training and I asked for help and support. By making others understand what their role was, I never felt overwhelmed. Few things are more important than a network of people you can rely on.

What’s your greatest sales learning?

It is not about selling a product – it is about the relationships you build with the people who buy from you. Even in the business-to-business space, you do business with people, not organisations. Always ask, “How can I help you?”

Related: What Top Sales Teams Have in Common

What’s the worst sales mistake you have made?

Thinking that I know it all. Yes, I have earned my various positions over time, but I am not perfect. Learning to be humble and to ask for help was a key lesson.

What is your personal mantra?

I look at what is happening in our country, in our cities and towns, and in our communities. I have a housekeeper who makes it possible for me to hold the position I do, and I take my responsibility to her and her family seriously.

When I do well, I am able to continue to employ her and in turn, she can support the community of people around her. The same applies to my family. Every day I consider how I am contributing to the GDP of South Africa. What am I doing to make sure that I contribute to the growth of this great country? If I can help my organisation to grow, we will employ more people, and have an impact on more lives. That should be enough to get anyone out of bed in the morning.