Journeys to Success – Jade R. Aspeling
In the first of a series of interviews on South Africans’ stories from a various walks of life about their journeys to success, I introduce a bright, young laywer-to-be and budding entrepreneur, Jade Aspeling.
Jade’s story is a refreshing and inspiring one of optimism, and a love for both the Law and South Africa.
Jade is a young graduate (23) who is about to embark on her law career. She completed her LLB degree at Wits in 2015 and is currently completing her Master’s degree in Law (LLM) at UCT. She was recently selected to do her articles at Norton Rose Fulbright, Sandton, beginning 2016.
Jade credits her parents and their unconditional and absolute support, for moulding her into the confident person she is today. “I believe it is absolutely profound to grow up in a house where your dad tells you, you are great and that you are born for greatness”. Their example has led Jade to do the same for others. This she does, by example, giving a word of encouragement and inspiration for a disheartened law student or providing legal counseling to members of her community. Her parents, who are also her role models, continue to inspire her on a daily basis. Her father instilled in her a solid work ethic and her mother is “the quintessential networker” who imparted this skill and other equally important soft skills, to her daughter.
She combines her two passions, the Law and Economics, by watching business news and researching how the Law and the economy interact. As an undergraduate, she even started an online blog called Cocoa and Oliver, which served as an outlet for her “intellectual banter as she learned about the market and basic economics” in her spare time (cocoaandoliver.tumblr.com). Jade loves the Law as it “permeates every single factor of life”, and she believes it can provide solutions to every problem, being both tangible and concrete. She also sees it as ultimately empowering. She explains this by stating that her legal knowledge not only gives her a voice as a citizen, but also allows her to give a voice to everybody else that she interacts with, on a daily basis. Having the understanding of how the law operates and what it entails, has helped her to positively impact on other people’s lives.
One of the biggest obstacles that she has had to overcome in her journey to success this far, has been “getting over-involved” which she humorously describes as “self-inflicted”. At varsity she was both a full-time LLB student, as well as involved in various student organizations. The list is awe-inspiring: not only did she manage the Netball team at the annual University Sport SA, she was also the African Affairs officer for SAUJS (the South African Union of Jewish Students), as well as part of the Wits Law School Mentorship Program and the Law School’s Critical Thinking Reading Group. She now wants to make ”time work for her”, which includes being successful at work as well as in her personal life in all its facets. This desire for work-life integration will ring true to other professionals and is a characteristic aspiration of Millennials, like Jade, world-wide.
Along with other Millennials, Jade expresses the importance of having a mentor. Being mentored has helped her to interact with people in the corporate world and has given Jade a solid understanding of “how work happens” as well as how to not necessarily do things better but to “do things differently”.
Ms Aspeling’s sage advice to other graduates and aspiring lawyers is to “change your conversation”. By this she means that you need to speak to different people of different generations about things that are topical to them, for example speaking to an attorney at a networking function about market events, or a relevant case rather than the latest happening in the lives of the Kardashians.
Her definition of success is the firmly held belief that every person has a very specific purpose in this life, something we “have to do”. It is a process, and a journey and a drive to “change the world”. Jade admits that this is a privilege as there are so many people “who work for survival, who aren’t empowered or passionate about their work”. She is truly inspired by her country, and sees “masses of opportunity”. She believes that her generation is focused on “finding solutions to a multitude of problems” and will be “game changers in a developing economy” rather than being content with merely complaining. She sets a very good example: her solution to the declining textile industry (a topic close to her heart as a Capetonian), has been to launch an online movement called JRA [pronounced ‘jar’]. This movement highlights locally produced goods and is an attempt to “rejuvenate an appetite for local brands and eventually to revive the clothing manufacturing sector in our country”.
The quote by Henry D.Thoreau perfectly sums up this bright young star’s attitude to work and life in general: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined.”
* To find out more about JRA, go to www. jrapronouncedjar.wordpress.com and on Instagram @thejrajourney.