Introducing Johann & Dara

May 16, 2019 08:56:59 AM

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Since reading ‘If I Could Tell You Just One Thing’, I set a goal to speak to one successful person every month. This month I am introducing Johann & Dara.

Wow, where did Q1 go?! As we move into May, I want to tell you about my recent meeting with two very inspirational business owners. Johann van Zyl, CEO and Dara Ní Ghadhra, COO of a very successful business in the Healthcare sector based in Hampshire.

I was lucky enough to meet Johann and Dara earlier this year at an awards dinner they  hosted for their staff. With my new 2019 mind-set, I was really interested to speak to them about their success and advice for others like me on their quest to success in business. At the awards we were unable to talk in the detail we’d liked, so I asked them to dinner.

I might have mentioned this in previous blogs, but the more people I speak to, the more I wish I’d started doing this sooner. Everyone (including me before this year) seems to think it’s hard to be successful. When you take the time to speak to people, the only real difference is they didn’t give up, worked hard and went the extra mile.

It’s true that there are two types of people in this world. The ones who are driven, have desire and are determined to always give that extra 10%, and others that don’t realise their potential or don’t act on it. 

Johann (now CEO) is South African, and after running companies throughout South Africa and Russia, moved to the UK in 2012 to pursue new business opportunities, a dream he’d always had. Johann originally trained to be an Accountant but this didn’t excite him. The companies that he ran as a young entrepreneur were really profitable, and he even opened a bank during the oppression in South Africa. Johann told me how another venture saw him build 25,000 homes in South Africa, of which ‘The’ Desmond Tutu was the chairman of!

When Johann decided to pursue his dream of starting a healthcare business in the UK, he joined a very successful company, which lead to him meeting and working with Dara. This is where the pair became very close work colleagues and friends.

Dara (now COO) from Cork in Ireland, graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Psychology & Business, she has since moved on to have a really successful career within Operations. When we met, Dara recalled how she’s always been very operationally minded and felt comfortable coming up with new ideas and processes to support the success and growth of the hospitals she worked in. Dara’s career progression saw her go from being a qualified Psychologist at a women’s secure unit, to running her own hospital, and then moving on to run a whole region of units.

Upon moving up to Group Operations Director, Dara met Johann at their previous company, which is where they then decided to branch out and start their own venture.

Since September 2018, Johann and Dara have turned what was a family run business, into a multi-million pound company that  comprises of 2 specialist care homes within Hampshire. Totalling 154 beds across the two sites, the pair have a very aggressive (but achievable) 5 year business plan that is well on its way.

Both Johann and Dara stress that wasn’t easy getting to where they are today, but it’s been worth it. They are very proud of one another and their way of working together is inspirational. I could have chatted with them for hours!

The advice the pair gave was:

Dara – “Have confidence, believe in yourself and what you are doing, and ensure you understand the financial side of business”

Johann – “Dream big, but realise that some of your dreams won’t pay off. Don’t allow that to put you off chasing your dreams because some do pay off. Don’t spend life ticking boxes”

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