Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Estelle Kumm

December 12, 2022
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Estelle Kumm

Meet Estelle Kumm, financial manager, extreme mountain biker, mother of twin girls, and a former off-road super biker with a genius for creating order out of chaos. As her colleagues at Search Partners International (SPi) / AltoPartners South Africa will attest, it’s a boring job title for a decidedly un-boring person.

What was your childhood career dream?

[Laughs] When I was younger, I enjoyed watching TV crime series like Charlie’s Angels, A-Team, Knight Rider and Magnum PI. I was always dreaming of becoming a cop or an undercover CIA agent catching the “bad guys”, but that obviously did not materialise. I had to return to reality eventually, and I ended up studying finance and accounting at the University of South Africa (UNISA).

What was your first job?

I started working straight after I matriculated as I was not 100% sure what I wanted to study. So, I started right at the bottom in the accounts department of an IT company. My job was to print the monthly invoices, fold them and post them to the clients. What followed was a 25-year career in financial management, first in IT and later in the construction industry.

How did you get into Executive Search?

It was purely by accident that I got introduced to Executive Search. About five years ago, the construction industry in South Africa went through a slump, and the company that I worked for was liquidated. A friend happened to see an advert for a vacant financial position at SPI, and she thought that I would be a great fit. She was right.

What motivates you to do what you do?

I love my job. I am driven to succeed in all aspects of my work and life, and I complete all tasks to the best of my ability. I believe in approaching everything in a positive manner, no matter how hard it seems. My biggest motivation is the satisfaction of succeeding after struggling with a problem.

Did you have a mentor?

I have had many mentors during my life, and I still cherish the advice and feedback I receive from friends, family and co-workers. Best piece of advice: “never, ever give up”.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Travel and explore the world before settling down with a family and career.

Do you have a superpower?

If I set my mind to do something, I will push through until I’ve done it. It may not be strictly a superpower, but I’ve had enough experience to know that not many people can push themselves the way I do.

How do you relax and unwind?

On my mountain bike, exploring the beautiful nature and trails around Johannesburg. I also do Pilates at least twice a week. As much as I love mountain biking, it is a substitute for off-road motorbiking, which I, unfortunately, had to give it up when I fell pregnant with my twin daughters.

What do you love most about SPI?

SPi has a very warm, friendly and family-like working environment. There is no “red tape” or hierarchy - you can approach anyone with an idea or for some assistance. They are also very open to new technology and how to improve and automate processes, which appeals to the business analyst in me.