Melanie Johnson was born in a small town, a “coloured community” in Newlands East, Durban, South Africa. Schooling during the apartheid era meant that government funding was distributed disproportionately between white and non-white schools. Although Mel did not suffer directly from the effects of apartheid, in her small community, there weren’t any dreams and aspirations, while life skills lessons at school were considered a free period. Due to her parents’ divorce at age 9, Mel learnt about resilience at a young age.
She started working at the age of 12 during her school holidays, earning £1.50 fortnightly (30 years ago £1.50 in South African Rands could get you a frock or two) at her best friend’s parents’ local shop. Dave Martin, the owner of the shop, was an accomplished entrepreneur and Mel soon learned the fundamentals of work ethic. The discipline of getting up early and showing up for work every day was a lesson taught at a young age.
At age 14, she worked on weekends and school holidays at an ice-cream parlour. While her friends were out and about on weekends, Mel was working, perfecting the art of a perfect ice-cream scoop!
Shortly after completing her GCSEs, she had to find a job as her parents could not afford for her to attend college. Mel started a family relatively young. However, it did not stop her from achieving her goals and fulfilling her dreams. She always looked up to people who had business acumen. Mel’s first mentor, Earlene Beaumont taught her everything about Accountancy and encouraged her to enrol for an Accounting course to improve her knowledge. Earlene nurtured Mel and always encouraged her to do her best. It made an enormous impact in Mel’s life both personally and professionally. She taught Mel the value of money, enabling her to make good financial decisions in most cases, just having a little bit of common sense to solve issues.
The next few years were very challenging for Mel. She remained focused, combining work, family, and studies. She successfully obtained her Accountancy degree enabling her to work as an Accountant at a manufacturing company.
The end of apartheid (1948-1994) meant that all non-whites could vote in the general election. When Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress (ANC) became the first black president in South Africa, it opened new horizons for Sub-Sahara Africa. A few years later. The UK ran the working holiday visa scheme that allowed South African citizens to live and work in the UK for a two-year period. Mel made the difficult decision to leave her children in South Africa and came to work in the UK. Her dream was to work and save enough money for a deposit for her property in South Africa. She figured that six months would be sufficient. Having no savings and a long tick list of visa requirements, she sold second-hand clothes and borrowed the remaining money from family members to come to the UK. When she landed at Heathrow airport on that an overcast day of 18th May 2001, she knew that this would be home even though her initial intention was only short-term.
Starting her accounting career from scratch, Mel worked as a cash manager at a leasing company. She had to gain UK work experience quickly, so she worked hard and saved as much as she could. It meant making many sacrifices while ensuring her children were secured financially in South Africa. Having to prove herself and work hard every step of the way, Mel purchased her first property in South Africa in 2003. It did not stop there for Mel. Every year, for the next three years, she bought properties and now has a portfolio of properties in South Africa.
She then secured another role as a Reconciliation Accountant at a Digital Recruitment company. It was there where she had a positive influence by a phenomenal woman, Sandy Webster that became one of Mel’s biggest inspirations in the UK. Sandy provided Mel with challenges that fostered her professional development and Mel was able to take her Accountancy knowledge to another level.
Sandy gave her the opportunity to continue living in the UK by applying (on behalf of the company) for a sponsor license. This opportunity allowed Mel to bring her children to the UK, something that she yearned for after having been away from them for a couple of years, again testing her resilience and determination for success. Mel was promoted to Financial Controller and managed a team of 4. Following the examples of her mentors, she taught, nurtured, worked as a team leader to ensure that her team was always performing at their best. Up until today, Mel still maintains her friendships with her old work colleagues.
After pursuing other positions as an FC, Sunrock Consultancy was born on 28th February 2012. Mel decided to freelance as she wanted a good work/life balance after realising that the stresses of work were taking its toll on her family. She used to work for a few IT & Telecommunication and Digital Media start-ups companies. Mel has covered a variety of tasks in Finance & Accountancy including budgeting, forecasting, cash flow forecasting, credit management, financial reporting, management accounts, strategy, recruitment, team management, board reporting, HR, legal, marketing, and has worked with internal and external auditors including mergers and acquisitions. Mel also has experience with software systems including Sage, Quickbooks, Oracle, SAP, XERO and many other bespoke software systems.
She has undertaken duties of a Financial Director, giving advice to CEOs to help them make better financial decisions in line with their strategies. In April 2016, Mel changed her business plan and rebranded to Sunrock Recruitment. She now focuses on helping candidates fulfil their finance careers and assisting clients with hiring the best talent in line with their business goals. She shares her expertise with candidates while supporting hiring managers in their quest to produce skilled team members to drive successful businesses.
Mel has climbed every step of the Accountancy ladder which separates her business model to other recruitment agencies. As the company grows from strength to strength, she invites you to be part of her journey and wishes you a successful business and career.
Visit our website at www.sunrockrecruitment.co.uk or feel free to call Mel on contact number 07730 588593