Andy is an all or nothing sort of person – once she sinks her teeth into a task, she gives it everything she has. While this is wonderful for the projects she has been involved with during her years at N3TC, her family has been known to get a little tired of having to share her with Twitter as she tweets about the road conditions during holidays!
Growing up in Benoni, she spent many happy hours playing with her dog Snoopy, reading The Famous Five in secluded parts of their garden and exploring the frog-filled pan down the road, which were much wilder back then. “What a happy childhood that was,” recalls Andy. “We had so many pets, including a rescued Mousebird named Monica – a real menagerie – and plenty of freedom to ride our bikes.”
Andy’s family were regular church goers – she was encouraged to think about others and to be thankful for all she had. “I always took the tomato out of my sandwiches, which drove my mom crazy. She implored me to remember the children who had nothing to eat.” This grounding in gratitude and service has certainly influenced Andy’s life. Nowadays she fulfils a role of pastoral care counsellor in her community and is able to use her skills as peacemaker, organiser and counsellor to help others. Her empathy comes from the personal challenges she has faced – each one making her stronger as she overcame it, her faith guiding her even through uncertain times.
The N3TC Touching Lives projects have given her glimpses into so many other worlds, alongside the N3 Toll Route. When she joined N3TC in 2007, she had no idea that she was going to participate so extensively in the growth of the CSI programme! Andy has found the opportunity to work with inspiring and passionate people a delight. So many of the project coordinators believe that Andy is their best friend – a testament to her genuine interest in the project, and her ability to really connect with others, and intuitively know what their needs are. “It isn’t difficult to establish relationships because they are all such nice people,” she smiles.
Sue Hopkins of Future Growth (a shareholder of N3TC) has observed first-hand the respectful relationship that Andy has with each employee and every beneficiary, without exception. “As much as anything else, I looked forward to witnessing the exchange between Andy and the people we were visiting. This was always filled with warmth and mutual pleasure in each other’s company, which was truly contagious! She has a way of not drawing attention to herself but rather championing others through her words and actions – an example we could all do well to follow.”
Andy finds the networking so satisfying – putting people in touch with others who can improve their world. “What a joy to see an opportunity, come up with a concept and make it happen. I honestly believe that our Touching Lives programme has had a positive impact on many, many lives.”
Naturally, there are a couple of very special moments that stand out. She recalls, with delight, being made an honorary Bug by the Midlands Meander Education Project – the Fabulous Freeway Firefly. Education makes up a large segment of their projects and watching little people grow and blossom gives her great joy. “I remember a little boy at Sand River Primary in Van Reenen, following me shyly one morning. When asked by the headmistress why he was doing that, he responded with a quiet ‘I love this lady so much’ – that moment makes up for a whole lot of other stressful ones!” She also values the fact that this programme has enabled her to show her daughters (Nicole and Caitlin) a world they may never otherwise have known; to share some of the hardships others experience, and to learn that going to school and having a plate of food is a privilege. It appears that they will follow in Andy’s kind footsteps, as Catlin recently asked her friends to make donations to Sunfield Home Fortuna, rather than buy her gifts on her last birthday.
The N3TC Touching Lives programme has never been just about handing out money, and Andy has been the perfect person to build relationships, and to bring encouragement and support along with her marketing and business skills. Andy has been responsible for the annual N3TC CSI Board Tour that brought the projects into the board room. James Howard is a regular participant in these tours, visiting inspiring projects in far flung places. “This vital link between the Board and the projects ensured that this work was always fully supported and funded to match Andy’s passion and persuasion. As a director participating on the trips I would feel that I had contributed personally, so I would happily help drive this within the Board.”
Inspiring and committed colleagues at N3TC have meant her job is very satisfying. Andy has made the most of opportunities offered by the company to travel to conferences in Mexico and New York, and to complete her Marketing Degree at Wits Business School (where she came top of the class). At overseas gatherings she is often surprised at how far ahead N3TC is with Social Media, up-to-the-minute technology and creative and effective campaigns. A major highlight and testament to her marketing skills is the N3 Gateway – a tourism project linked to the arterial national road – which aims to become self-sustaining. Another is the annual drOp’ngo2c ‘Supporters Tour’ linked to the joBerg2c staged MTB event. The Tour is Andy’s brainchild and quite unique. Andy relishes the fact that she has been able to see opportunities to change lives, to initiate fantastic projects and do things she never imagined were possible.
Colleague, Thandi Rakhale, appreciates the genuine love she has for her co-workers and the investment that Andy has made in her personal growth. “Andy has taught me many lessons which have shaped me in more ways than she may know. Her warm heart and caring nature, supported by a highly efficient and organised manner, has made an enormous difference to the lives of so many.”
Con Roux has worked extremely closely with Andy throughout her career at N3TC. His admiration for her passion, vision and caring is boundless. “Andy is a perfectionist and will settle for nothing less, especially in relation to her own multi-faceted role. However, beneath her professionalism and effectiveness, Andy has an unbelievably caring heart. I will always treasure a memory of her tears of joy while cradling a handicapped child in her arms.”
Andy is an exceptional gift to the communities of the N3 Corridor as the Touching Lives programme attests.
Andy loves to escape to the bush with her family (they just have to stop her from tweeting!), to birdwatch and hike at Kruger or the Cape. At home she squeezes in as much reading as she can, adores pottering in her garden growing herbs and veggies and intends to revive her love of tap dancing someday. She is thinking of taking up drumming too! Watch out for Andy Visser moving to her unique beat and making the world a better place with every step she takes.