Womens Month staff feature

We wanted to get to know Linda Halliday, the women behind eta College, where it all began and her journey in guiding eta College to where it is today. Check out the questions we asked her below, prepare to feel inspired!

Q: What is your title at eta College?

A: Academic Director of eta College

Q: What is your role at eta College?

A: My role requires me to achieve the eta long term vision by leading eta’s Centre for Academic Development (CAD) and the academic development team that achieves the eta academic strategy.

Q: How long have you been involved with eta College?

A: I did my first course with eta after it was launched in 1983.  I then worked for eta and the director at the time (Dr Malcolm Marrison), my interest at the time was to develop the practical side of eta’s courses which, had up to that point, been mostly theoretical.  In 1994, Steve Harris and I bought the eta Cape operation from Dr Marrison, launching the new organisation in December of that year.

Q: What is your highest qualification?

A: I hold a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from UCT and I am currently completing an additional course on Course Design and Curriculum Development at UCT.  I still hope to embark on a PhD in education and truly believe that it is never too late.

Q: What was your education journey to attain this qualification?

A: I actually only came across the fitness industry in the late nineteen seventies when I joined a gym called The Gamesman.  This was later to become the Health & Racquet Group, which was later to become Virgin Active SA.  I found myself really interested in teaching exercise and was often called on to take a class – because I happened to teach well – even though I did not have a qualification to do this.  I then took one of the first eta courses in 1983 – this was called Exercise and Fitness Studies which I passed with a distinction.  Thereafter, I went on to do the Diploma Exercise Teacher with eta.  This was followed by a range of ACE exams.  At this time there was no accreditation body for education (the SAQA Act of 1998 was the first glimpse of change after the first democratic elections in 1994).  REPSSA – the professional body for the fitness industry was only launched in 2011. Finding myself developing education programmes with eta in 2004, I completed certificates in Assessment Design, Conducting Outcomes Based Assessment and Moderation of assessment.  Following this, I applied for an RPL process with UCT to see if I could access a Master’s programme in education (a friend had sent me information on a module called Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and this really caught my eye).  I applied to do this course but it needed me to have an undergraduate degree but my highest achievement at the time was only a diploma.  I then passed the course and went on to start and complete the rest of the course work followed by the research based thesis for the Masters.  I am delighted to say that I passed this and have never looked back.  A lot of work and a lot of learning was required to complete but I absolutely loved the process.  The post graduate studies gave me enormous respect for the institutions of learning and the rigour that supports our research and our knowledge building. 

Q: Can you recommend a book you feel everyone should read?

A: There are many but the ones that come to mind are: The seven Habits of Highly successful people by Steven Covey.  Then there is The Road Less Travelled by M Scot Peck and a recent read which I found gave me such perspective is Sapiens: a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – it gives such perspective on our lives.  Finally – I loved The Four-Hour work week by Tim Ferris because it teaches you that it is possible to do everything and still relax.

Q: What do you do to stay fit and healthy?

A: I live in Cape Town so I love walking the mountain on the Newlands side and do this 2-3 times a week.  I love yoga and do that 2-3 times a week.  In between a bit of gym – doing whatever takes my fancy which could be the stationery bike or a bit of strength work.  Then, when in Plett (I get there as often as I can as we have a house there), I row on the river in front of the house, in the surf ski, bike ride and beach walk – something each day.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Learning inspires me, travel inspires me (where I learn new things), and my business inspires me.  Being a mother has made me learn more than I ever knew I could. My life partner and business partner, Steve Harris inspires me, as do my adult children – each in their own way.  I have wonderful friends and fantastic colleagues who also inspire me. With the support of all these fantastic people, I continue to grow and I value that enormously,

Q: What is the best advice you have received and really followed?

A: The best advice I got once related to forgiving someone who was angry with me and bitter about what I had done.  Given that this was my husband at the time and he did not want a divorce, his anger and bitterness was understandable.  I had to learn to accept that and to accept that his feelings were part of the process of letting go. I have since learnt that change – of any sort – brings with it an emotional relationship to the change they are experiencing.  Elizabeth Kubler Ross has written about this, as has William Bridges and it’s important to know that whenever we go through change or when change is imposed on us, it brings certain feelings that we have to learn how to navigate. 

Q: What advice can you give to our readers?

A: I hate giving advice, unless I am asked for it. But seeing that you asked, here goes.  Because our work takes up a large proportion of our life, best that we do what we love, if we don’t earn much doing it, we don’t mind.  If however, we do what we love, chances are that the money will find us.  Another piece of advice I give is to plan – oddly it frees you up – and I know that sounds paradoxical.  But I have always found that the better I plan, the more I achieve.  This includes planning for work, studies, play, travel, exercise, eating and recreation.  It may sound strange to plan so much but it really works. 

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