This is the story of why I started hating my job. I won’t mention names but I will tell it like it really happened.

I was in charge of an e-commerce website and all digital marketing for a company. I grew the direct and lead sales from less than R4 million to over R40 million. In my best year the sales turnover was R64 million.
I was good at my job. I loved the thrill of chasing and making numbers.
I wanted to move on at the beginning of 2014, but that is when I got the infertility and low AMH news – and starting a new job was not something I could add to that stress.
Nobody realised what was happening in my life at work. I told my manager, because I needed to get to the clinic some mornings for scans and meds and days off for aspirations. Then I also shared it with the colleagues I was closest to.
A new CEO started and my manager resigned. They recruited externally but needed a person to temporarily take over the position. I went for the interview against 2 of the other marketing managers and got the job.
I glued that team into a well-oiled machine. Worked with the CEO to save R9 million on marketing budget, renegotiated contracts to spread the spend over a longer period on year contracts…I worked hard. The team worked harder to support me and reach our targets with a tiny budget.
Then finally the new GM of Marketing started. This was also the beginning of when I started hating my job, because she was a bully – and I was her #1 target.
In the beginning I took the verbal and emotional abuse. She called me “useless” and “not contributing” in front of my team. She yelled at everyone and nothing we did was ever good enough – except the one guy (Witbroodjie). Even ideas you uttered were shot down just to be praised when it was rehashed by Witbroodjie in the same meeting.

It got worse

The bullying escalated and finally one day I lost it. She was particularly nasty that day to every single person and then she laid into me for not delivering something she had discussed with Witbroodjie – and neither let me know.
Her voice reached that screechy sound that I had come to know so well and I snapped. I sat there in my chair and calmly told her that maybe if the rest of us were treated with some respect and not get bullied by her all the time we would be more productive.
She didn’t like that at all. She started screaming at me and I got up and screamed at her that she was a bully. I stormed off.
I complained to HR about her. They did nothing except set up an internal EQ course. This was a complete sham and joke where everyone had the chance to compliment and make comments about each other. Everyone felt violated – except Witbroodjie, Bully and HR.
Apparently my my biggest crime was that I didn’t share every detail of my personal life and ask for advice on it…

Stressed out

I was so stressed out at work, my hair fell out. I didn’t sleep well. I cried myself to sleep and my whole body was always tensed up. My hands shook visibly all the time.
I was sick for close to 6 months that last year. I had colds, stomach bugs, bronchitis and I just couldn’t get better.
That was how I lived for almost a year. It was horrible.

It was all downhill from there…

The team grew close and I became the buffering wall between Bully and the team.
She kept on her antogonistic management style and I kept on calling her out on it. Neither one of us hid our dislike for the other – the only thing that changed was that she didn’t scare me anymore.
I kept on complaining to HR and kept notes of incidents. (This post doesn’t halfway describe the ordeal.)
Then finally one day she dedicated a whole workshop to identify our weaknesses – including our personalities. Then she got to the part of just how unprofessional I was and she went at it and finally I lost it and stormed out of the meeting straight into HR’s office.
I made her take a formal complaint. I wanted it documented. I wanted the bullying stopped.

HR was reluctant…

It was her friend. I made a serious accusation about a manager – and it was all true. HR knew what was happening in marketing and she did nothing for a year and now she was forced to take action. She could hear from her open office not even 10m away and SHE DID NOTHING.
The 3 of us sat around the boardroom table and I remember myself saying that I was tired of being called useless when no matter what I suggested it was never listened to and that I was tired of the unprofessional behavior of the Bully. How could I deliver my best work when I’m constantly not heard, never thanked, screamed at and expected to read minds. The Bully accused me for being unprofessional and not contributing… bit of a pot/kettle situation.

It got better…

The peace was fragile. She knew I was not going to hold back if she stepped out of line. I firmly stood there right between her and the team she used to bully.
She started walking with us for our Takeaway Fridays and tea time walks. She tried to fit in – like a normal human being. Nobody trusted the sudden change.

Then I went on maternity leave

…and she resigned exactly 2 years after starting at the company – but not before screaming at another (ex) colleague enough to make her quit a day later.
Just before my maternity leave ended HR called me in to meet the replacement and discuss my duties.
They wanted to add more duties from people that left onto my schedule – after I had taken on another person’s duties already the previous year – without compensation.
Then it dawned on me, I wanted to leave 3 years ago and I don’t want to work there anyway – why put myself through that again. I wanted out and I didn’t want to repay maternity leave compensation.
I refused to sign my new contract, got a labour lawyer and walked out with a settlement package. It was the best end to a career where I delivered on targets but couldn’t get a verbal thank you or good job for a R40 million turnover.

What am I doing now?

I’m working for myself and serve a few clients. I manage social media accounts, write content and do marketing. I’m writing again too!
I’m happy now.

Susann is a travel, parenting, beauty and lifestyle blogger in Johannesburg, South Africa.


  1. Wow? What an amazing story. I’m so glad you stood up for yourself.
    I , too worked at a hostikle work environment and blogged about it. I got out when health issues became apparent.
    Sometimes we have to save our sanity and walkk away from the madness, or risk going mad ourselves.
    Good for you!

    • Susann Reply

      Totally agree I haven’t regretted leaving, or that I now am responsible for myself…after all, being healthy and happy is more important than having a job you hate.

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