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#WIB: Q&A With Lili Nupen

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Towards the end of 2019, Nupen Staude de Vries founder and director Lili Nupen was interviewed by Women on Top as part of their Women in Business initiative. In the interview, Lili talks about where she came from, what her average workday entails, where Nupen Staude de Vries is headed, and more.

1. Can you please tell us more about your business? Nupen Staude de Vries Inc. is a majority women-owned boutique law firm specializing in Construction, Mining and Environmental Law. We launched a year ago with just 3 directors and have grown over the past year to a staff compliment of 9 fabulous employees, predominantly women.

2. When, how and why did you start your business? We started on 1 October 2018 when 3 of us realized that we all had something in common – we all love the law, love South Africa (with each of us having a specific passion for the sectors which we specialize in) and were fatigued by the admin of working in larger firms and so decided to combine our strengths, personalities and networks to start our own dynamic, innovative and young firm.

3. What is your role in the business? I am a founder and director of Nupen Staude de Vries Inc. I head up the Mining and Environmental Law Departments.

4. Where did you study and what did you study? I completed an undergraduate degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), whereafter I went on to do my post-grad LLB at UCT. After having completed my articles at Bowmans and staying on a for a year thereafter, I went on to study and complete (cum laude) a dual MBA through the Wits Business School and HEC Business School (Paris).

5. How did you finance your business? A lot of hard work and a little bit of initial debt.

6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists. Hard to say as it differs each day, however, a large part of my day is spent speaking to and meeting with clients, colleagues, counsel and various regulators. I am of the view that relationships are everything in this game. The other part of my day is spent reading, researching, drafting and commenting on legal agreements, opinions, thought pieces and the like. It’s a wonderful mix!

7. How do you balance your home life and your work life? During this first year, it has been with great difficulty and a lot of burning the midnight oil. I have two small children who have been incredibly patient with me this year, and whom I have not spent nearly enough time with. Although I have not missed a single ballet, music or school concert, the fact that they sit on top of my desk at home after dinner “drawing mummy pictures” while I send out a few last emails, is not exactly my idea of quality family time. I have made the conscious decision that things have to change and have started putting mechanisms in place to allow for this positive shift and balance to occur in 2020.

8. What drives you and inspires you? I am an innately driven and ambitious person. I believe that I am driven by a sense of wanting to be the best in my area of expertise, to be recognised for this and to be taken seriously as a lawyer in the South African mining arena.

9. Where and when do you have your best ideas? My best ideas arise in social situations without a doubt – chatting and bouncing ideas off fellow colleagues, friends and family.

10. Where and how do you market/advertise your business for sales leads? Mostly by word of mouth, otherwise through articles, publications, attending indabas.

11. What is next for your business? Watch this space…. Nupen Staude de Vries is innovating!

12. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business? Have a positive outlook and attitude from the word go! It is always easy to be anxious and fearful of failure….however, make a conscious effort to change that thought process to being one of success! If you think it, you will achieve it!

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