Inspirational Women 2017 – Taryn van Schalkwyk – nee Simpson (IP Lawyer)
When I met Taryn, she was still very much a Simpson and dating her now husband Jason. From the day I met her I found her charismatic and driven. A woman sure of herself and determined to leave her mark in the world. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to see her evolve both in her career and family life. Initially more my hubby’s mate, today I find it’s her and I going off for a cuppa coffee somewhere so our sons can have some fun outdoors.
This is her story…
My journey has been a privileged one on a spiritual level. I have always made life decisions on the basis of my strong spiritual beliefs. Although I was brought up a Catholic and have a strong association with the religion I have universal faith. We find God in different ways.
Through my journey, I have found God through the strong family that I have. From childhood, I can confirm that they are the backbone to the decisions I have made. I have selfless parents who have sacrificed their own luxuries and in part, their own journeys to ensure that my siblings and I had what we needed and more. I am the youngest of 4. Two sisters and a brother. I, therefore, was always treated with even more care and the right amount of attention. I had to “get on with it” so to speak because with so many hours in a day…well my parents had limited time to give me all their attention. I truly believe that is part of the drive which started to burn within me from school days.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
From an early age, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. So, I landed up doing some vac work at law firms and there the passion for law was ignited. Originally I had an intention of being a human rights lawyer. I elected human rights based subjects in both my LLB and my LLM. Whilst completing my LLM I had the esteemed honour of being supervised by Shadrack Gutto (leading human rights law specialist and a member of the UN). It was at that time that I had a cross road in my life. To either pursue a career at the UN or select a different path which would be kinder and more accommodating of having a husband and family.
I met my husband in 2006 and he changed my world. We are very different people and in some cases have polar opposite traits. What draws us together are our differences, but more importantly, our values system. We are both humanitarians and strive to make a difference in people’s lives. Jason is the epitome of selflessness. He is a fearless, generous person who is concerned with what is right versus what is simply acceptable. I look up to him in many ways and I know he does the same with me. We have a son, Jordan is 4 and a half years old. Jordan displays traits of both Jason and I and the bond we both share with Jordan is blessed. We also learn so much from Jordan. There is wisdom in the youth…and we listen to what he has to say. We are expecting our second son in September 2017 and are exceptionally excited to live the new dynamic he will bring to our lives.
Back to my career, I selected intellectual property because I knew it could be used to bring greater good to people. My career took a few twists and turns and I became a trade mark and copyright specialist at the law firm Kisch IP. During my time at KIsch IP, I specialized in entertainment law (providing, for the most part, pro bono services, to actors artists, comedians and musicians). It may not be well known in SA, but to be in the entertainment industry is limiting on the income the entertainers receive, especially when they are getting out of the starting blocks. In addition, because there is limited statutory guidance, we rely mainly on common law principles to protect the rights of entertainers.
“Change is the law of life. Those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
An opportunity at Absa Bank opened up in 2007. I was seeking a challenge and boy did I get one….I became the head of IP for Absa and a year later for Barclays Africa. In addition, I head up the Sponsorship legal team. Given the changes over the years, I have received the challenge of adaption to circumstances within the Group with open arms. I have grown emotionally and mentally. To date I have kept up with a lot of my entertainment clients and still conduct pro bono work for them, time permitting.
Aside from my legal career, I have always loved acting. The stage is where I feel at home. To have the ability to take on and explore a character other than yourself is awe-inspiring and humbling as you explore the ins and outs of human beings as a whole through the experience. When I have a chance I audition for slots in shows as well as tv roles. I haven’t had the opportunity to take it up full time yet, but I know my time is coming and I truly look forward to it.
Maintaining balance is not a challenge, it is an adventure. I have a packed life filled with obligations both to my immediate family and stemming out to the rest of the family. At times the demands of career, wife, mom, family, friends can be overwhelming. How do I manage it? I concentrate on the journey of myself to maintain the balance. I seek silence to regroup. This is the form of independent drive outs to large spaces where is myself and nature I can bring my thoughts back to my journey or simple moments where I breathe deeply and take in all that I need to calm my spirit can connect with the higher being, God.
I am a massive supporter of individuals maintaining their own journey. Because if we aren’t fulfilled in the sense of ourselves there is little we can do to encourage the positive paths of others. If one is centred and seated, the answers on how to divide time and energy to those around us become clear. Time is our greatest commodity. As I grow older I am more selective as to who I spend time with. I encourage my son to take the time for himself, to be alone with his thoughts to ensure that he paths a go to place to find the answers he will need as he progresses through life.
Being a woman is an exceptional privilege. I honour all women around me, for their gifts for their nurturing manners, for their vision, for their balance, for their vision.
I encourage us to stand together and work together to raise a rainbow nation.
Let us stand side by side with men as they are not our enemies. There has been much change which reflects equal footing. We need to work together to realize the purpose of our maker.
This post is shared in Taryn van Schalkwyk’s own words.