About image and etiquette

IN TODAY'S competitive business arena, it takes more than an MBA and a "Dress for Success" wardrobe to climb the corporate ladder.

As business has become more socially oriented, companies look increasingly to those men and women who have class and style.

It is against this background that former beauty queen Doris Msibi established SA Image Institute, an image and etiquette coaching firm where she educates and empowers individuals to be their best.

Msibi, who is a model of grace, femininity and confidence, says she decided to start the business of creating social mastery because, through her experience in the recruitment industry, she saw a huge gap in how job seekers presented themselves to impress potential employers. She also realised that her participation in the beauty industry gave her exposure to social skills that she would not have otherwise been exposed to.

"It takes 30 to 60 seconds to make an impression, positive or negative. People make quick judgments based on the way someone looks, talks and behaves, and these impressions can be tough or even impossible to change later. It is, therefore, important to handle yourself in a manner that will leave a positive image," she says.

A qualified professional image consultant, vice president of the Women in Need (WIN) Foundation SA and president of the Association of Professional Image Consultants South Africa, Msibi has addressed and serviced a diverse portfolio of clients, including corporations, professional associations, educational institutions and entertainers.

She has empowered audiences with a motivational approach that carefully demonstrates the advantage of practising etiquette every day, and shares tips on the art of out-classing the competition. She also writes for Jenna Clifford's e-newsletter as well as Parable magazine on the importance of civility.

The pretty one says she helps people, especially those in corporate and leadership positions, to handle themselves in a professional way.

Nearly 10 years after winning Miss Soweto, a beauty pageant that changed her life, Msibi is proving she still knows what it takes to achieve success.

"Just after I was crowned Miss Soweto I was offered a position as event coordinator for the Kora All Africa Music Awards and the Miss Malaika pageant," she says.

"I then moved on to owning and managing a modelling academy at the age of 18."

Not only has she managed to grab the attention of beauty magazines and advertisers through her exotic looks, very soon after she established herself as a beauty worthy of our attention, she was crowned Mrs Globe South Africa 2006/07.

Rather than fading into the background like so many beauty queens, Msibi found an unexpected way to catapult herself back into the public view.

Not wanting to limit herself or her potential, she decided to focus on starting her own business, another dream she had always wanted to pursue.

She clinched a deal with e.tv to present Forgive and Forget, a very successful show that deals with assisting individuals in their attempt to correct their wrongs by apologising to the person or people they have hurt in the past.

Msibi believes that success is not only created from luck, but also from passion, belief, and great effort.

"I believe, as the saying goes, you will never have to work a day in your life when you do what you love," she says.

Busy as she is, she still finds time to do her social responsibility duties. Msibi lends her time and support to numerous charitable organisations and campaigns including Shout, a crime prevention and awareness campaign pioneered by the SAPS and Primedia.

Of the projects closest to her heart is the life skills programme she facilitates at Phafogang High School in Soweto.

"What I do there is an extension of who I am and have become over a period of time and that each one of us exists for a specific purpose and that it is our task to determine what that is," she says with her trademark smile that has earned her a spot at SMILE, a charity programme by dentists raising funds for the WIN Foundation.

Msibi says her dream is to touch as many lives as possible, imparting her knowledge and skills to other women around Africa.

"I want women to learn to know, accept and love themselves for who they are because I believe there is nothing more attractive than a confident woman."

Msibi loves to rejuvenate and spend time with her businessman husband and two children.

"I love Thai massages, I exercise several days a week in our home gym and enjoy baking with my son, Njabulo," she says. "My husband and I love to travel. We are very private people and enjoy spending time at our holiday home on the coast in KZN."