Judy Ditchfield

RP_407 21. Why did you start your own business?
I was asked to do Business Role Play almost 11 years ago by a British Company and was absolutely blown away by the impact it had on the delegates on the Training course. There has been nothing in South Africa, with the same level of training. Using professional actors to simulate real life scenarios, delegates are given the opportunity to practice their skills (be it relationship building, influencing, motivational, or challenging conversations) and get focussed feedback and challenge while trying to “get it right”. It is used extensively international. My partners and I decided to create Performance Role Play Training (or the Power of Performance) as we wanted to make sure, we could offer Business Role Plays that were as competent, as those around the world. We have been told that our Role Players are world class.

2. What are the hours that you work?
It absolutely depends on the requirements of the client, but we do spend many hours researching, then tailor-making the scenarios for the client, aside from the extensive preparation we as actors need to do to make sure we understand process and requirements for the companies we work with.

3. How many people work in your business?
There are 3 partners. Me, Charlotte Butler and my sister Jocelyn Broderick. We currently have a team of 12 highly skilled Business Role Players (based on the UK Role Play system) as well as Jocelyn, Charlotte, and I also create tailor-made Training Programmes for companies, which we facilitate, and into which we incorporate the Role Play. With the company getting busier, we are planning to expand our pool of Business Role Players who are all professional full time actors. Not every actor is a good role player. We carefully select actors that are working for the benefit of the delegate rather than for their own benefit and who are particularly skilled at reading the behaviours of others rather than focussing on themselves.

4. What are the goals for your business?
To be Africa’s leading company of choice for Business Role Players in Africa, always being ahead of the game.

5. How do you handle pressure?
We laugh a lot. The three of us have worked together for many years. We understand each other, so there is a lot of give and take. As soon as we see pressure on one of us, the other two step in and shift the focus. We balance each other out. And then laugh some more. We are highly professional, but have a huge amount of fun, because we love what we do.

6. How would a man run your business differently?
We are dynamic and can seriously multitask. We have a lot more fun! So I think it would be far more rigidly run.

7. How do you juggle being a mom and running a business?
I have been hugely fortunate to have a husband who is totally hands on. He is also a freelance actor. So Paul does a lot of the fetching and carrying, but I am an active parent, and try to attend everything my sons do whenever I can. Sometimes it is tough. Over the years I promised myself that one parent has to be with the kids at all times. Since the children were born, there have only been 2 occasions in all the years when Paul and I were away at the same time. The kids stayed with my sister and their stepsister (she is my age) and the kids had a ball!!

8. Would you ever go and work for a boss again?
In my role as an actress I do all the time, and though we are own our company, we are service providers, so in a sense we always do.

9. Do you ever take work home with you?
Of course, but then again we are actors so, it is part of who we are. But we do switch off from the roles. And go to tea with my friends. Women need other women around them! It’s grounding!

10. What do you do to relax?
Sit on facebook (!), read, play Sudoku.

11. What would you like to know more about to run your business better?
How to seriously market it.

12. If you had to start again what would you do better knowing what you know now? Nothing.

13. Did you have to borrow money and if yes what route did you follow? Not yet thank heavens.

14. What satisfaction do you get from running your own business?
It is satisfying on every level.

15. What makes your business successful?
Immediate and permanent results. People constantly reward us with feedback that the sessions have been life changing. We are also highly professional, and make sure clients feel the pressure take off them, by doing a thorough, fun and highly professional job, with amazing results.

16. What form of marketing do you use?
Up until now, it has all been word of mouth. Now we have to really start getting out there and be more visible. We have built a very strong client basis of very high profile companies, and are extensively used by several UK based companies as part of their training programmes. We need people to know that, and see it. I am about to fly to Sao Paulo to do 2 days of Role Play for an International Company for Potential Squared who work with Accenture, Chanel, . I have worked in Washington, London, Kenya, Egypt, Rwanda, and many times in South Africa.

17. What do we do?
Unskilled communication impacts on everything from relationships to productivity and profitability. We unlock communication potential/address communication challenges using training and Business Role Play. We use practical courses and simulations which allow them to recognize the need for change, and practice it in a safe space. Our training effects immediate, sustainable behaviour change amongst employees (workforce/management/teams

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