Liezel van der Westhuizen
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Already a household name after an impressive stint on MNET Idols in 2008, Liezel van der Westhuizen is currently taking both the South African entertainment and personal branding scenes by storm. The relaxed smile, smooth and professional working manner and impeccable style has made her one of the most sought-after presenters and emcees in the country.
Liezel kicked off her public speaking and Emcee career over a decade ago and, to date, has hosted more than 1 500 events across South Africa and internationally including the UK; Hong Kong; Seychelles; Venice and Bali. She has won bronze and silver awards as a member of the Toastmaster’s Society and is often invited to give motivational talks, covering topics such as “Beat the Bully”, “Finding Your Inner Strength” and her most booked “Personal Brand Personified”.
If the brand fits…
Liezel was nicknamed “the giraffe” in designer Craig Jacobs’ Sunday Times column in 2009, when she and her even taller sister Monique appeared in killer heels and succeeded in towering over other attendees at a Radisson Blu fashion event. Although the moniker was not meant entirely flatteringly at the time, this clever entrepreneur went on to incorporate it into everything she does, having recently launched the Giraffe Brand Academy. This latest initiative has been set up to assist CEO’S and entrepreneurs all over the world in building a powerful and authentic personal brand, which should see her students taking their businesses to great heights.
As only the second woman in the world to present Idols, Liezel became a familiar face on the popular reality show during Seasons Five and Six, as well as during her time as a presenter on SABC3’s daily breakfast show, Expresso. Liezel has presented TV shows for channels SABC3, SuperSport, SABC Sport, MNET, DSTV and SABC 2, and lists her career highlights as Idols, Expresso, The Lunchbox and Soundcheck.
She continues to impress with her daily fitness feature on Kfm and a Fitness Fridays segment on Cape Talk . With so much going for her, it’s hard to believe it has been just a few years since Liezel was “discovered” by Jacaranda FM after the programme manager heard her working as a Makro announcer after serving her TUKSFM apprenticeship.
Beauty and brains
With her professional style and ease of conversation, it will come as no surprise that Liezel has a spree of degrees in Communication Management from the University of Pretoria and, since 2000, has been a member of Toastmaster’s International. She holds a BCom degree in Human Resources and Industrial Psychology, and both a BCom Honours and an MCom in Communication Management.
Fitness feats for charity
But away from the microphones and cameras, in 2012 and 2013 Liezel partnered with Canoeing SA’s high-performance coach, Greg van Heerden, to finish the toughest canoe marathon in the world – the Unlimited Dusi Canoe Marathon. She keeps a healthy fitness regime, training six times a week on the road (running and cycling) and in the pool, and was selected to take part in Nestle’s Triathlon team that went on to complete the gruelling Full Ironman Triathlon in 2010 (this involves a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run).
Using her sporting activities to achieve good in the world, Liezel undertook a tandem cycle across the Himalayas in 2018, with a visually impaired athlete, to raise funds for Operation Smile and OneSight.
The ocean – and its preservation – hold a special place in Liezel’s heart. She loves to swim, stand-up paddle board and surfski and is, impressively, a certified Nitrox Enriched Air scuba diver. Liezel recently gained her skipper’s license, after practising during a sailing fitcation in the Seychelles archipelago, which saw her entering and winning – on her return – the Mercedes Benz Ladies Race at the Royal Cape Yacht Club.
Liezel is the first person in the country to have ridden a bicycle powered entirely by social media (a custom-fitted techno wonder bike!) for the dedicated purpose of raising funds for Khayelitsha’s Velokhaya Life cycling academy. With the help of public “likes” and Pick n Pay, she was able to donate 20 bicycles to the academy – an organisation which, just like Liezel, believes sport is able to give our youth the skills they need for a happy and successful future.
This humble, energetic and deep-thinking personality will undoubtedly continue to grab each opportunity that life presents, while changing lives and bringing joy on her daily journey.
- PERSONAL BRANDING : LATERAL THINKING IN THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
- PERSONAL BRANDING : FUTURE PROOF YOURSELF WITH YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
- PERSONAL BRANDING: BE AFRAID OF YOUR EMPLOYEES’ PERSONAL BRAND