When CEO Executive Director, Annelien Breed sets her mind on something, be it a goal or an ambition, absolutely nothing gets in her way! Her husband, Douw, lightheartedly calls her a ‘force of nature’, yet anyone who has had the pleasure of interacting with Annelien will attest to the fact that the world needs more of her kind. The kind of person who sets goals then presses the gas pedal to the floor until the target is met. The kind of person who has played a major part in developing strategy and structures that have contributed toward ensuring that CEO has become a major player in the labour relations industry!

Annelien’s ‘never look back’ attitude kicked into high gear when she left her childhood town of Brits to study law at the University of Pretoria. “I truly never looked back!” she confirms. “I knew I wanted to be an attorney from the age of 11 already, and here was my chance.” From there, ‘moenie terugkyk nie’ has rocketed her to the heady position of executive director for CEO, achieving the goal of running a total of 2 000km in a single year (a target achieved by November already) and – this is important too – getting the absolute best deals during the Black Friday sales!

Mixed in with her persistence is a conviction for doing what is right and being the voice in instances where others cannot do so for themselves. “I am a firm believer that you need to do good no matter where you are, and even if you can not see the impact your actions might have – you need to take the moral high ground and fight for what is right,” Annelien insists. “But, you also need to strike a good balance and determine when the battle is not worth it. I love to organise and implement systems. For the last seven years, I have been in a management role where my days of practising law were limited. Creating systems, and maintaining outcomes is crucial. I have a passion for working with people despite the challenges faced.”

Of her work with CEO, Annelien maintains that the organisation has remained true to its founding vision, and the notion that strong moral and ethical values are a non-negotiable. “For me, the vision of the Organisation must be something that filters from the top, down,” she says. “The management team and members need to believe in our vision in order for it to be successful. I have an excellent team that believes and stays true to the vision of CEO.”

Likewise, for members, Annelien says that CEO strives to make a difference in the lives of every business owner and that if the needs of the business owner are met, it creates a sustainable system where there is job security. “We want to educate and assist members of CEO to comply with the relevant laws governing labour relations and understand them.”

The description of Annelien’s personality by her colleagues tracks too; “hardworking, honest, fair, loyal, determined, ambitious, approachable, creative, knowledgeable, compassionate, integrity, conscientious and enthusiastic.” She laughs bashfully, “I do not know how honest they are being.”

Author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar says that “success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination.” Annelien would likely add, “and loads of coffee!” On the subject of performance enhancers, she credits her husband being a major spiritual and emotional influence. “He is a great sounding board and offers excellent advice and insight when clarity is needed. He is very supportive and, in so doing, he creates a space where I can comfortably be myself – a mom, wife, and most of all, a space where I can pursue my career.”

Near the end of our conversation, Annelien’s daughters rush into the sitting room excitedly. They’re ready to test out their new kid’s scooters! She quickly herds them out of the front door and onto the driveway, helps them check their safety gear and brakes, then sends them on their way. As the youngest wobbles slightly, then gets her stride, Annelien casts a proud gaze. Then calls out; “Moenie terugkyk nie!!”