About Us

The overall purpose of this assessment is to identify and publicly recognise ‘Rising Stars’ as having the qualities needed to join a guiding coalition of other Rising Stars able and willing to walk the talk to help themselves and others rise to the top of their game. Our Rising Star Network will be formed from the top 5 finalists in each of the 12 business sectors – making a network of approximately 150 (over the last 3 years) of the most talented young people in the country. We are very committed to keeping this network alive, by means of personal development and intra network education – In this way we can assist their further development benefiting them personally, the organisation they work for and in turn the wider economy.


Our Vision

Raise awareness of the breadth and depth of talent in the 28-40 year age bracket
Create opportunities for young talented individuals to grow, connect and give back
Bring the leading organisations of South Africa together to raise talent on the national agenda
Provide inter-connected, interactive group driven social and growth platforms for young talented individuals
Grow the stature of the Rising Star Awards, Summit and associated ventures to be the most recognised national initiative focusing on young talented individuals


Meet the Team

Laura Barker
Managing Director, BlackBark Productions

Laura has over 10 years experience working in business media, both in the UK and South Africa. She has developed initiatives for clients including the British Retail Consortium and the Commonwealth Secretariat as well as having launched numerous awards ceremonies with great success – the most recent being the Enviropaedia Eco-Logic Awards. Her previous employers include the Stationery Office (formerly Her Majesty’s Stationery Office) and Caspian Media in the UK, and Topco Media and Eco-Logic Publishing on South African shores.

Khululwa Tom
Nominations/Entries/Alumni Manager

Having worked in Administration in various companies including Green Route (Destination Management Company) and CB4 Retail and Production and as a Social Media Manager at Shoprite for a short while, I have learned a lot when it comes to organisational and people skills. My real passion lies in communication and relationship management. While working at BlackBark as the Nominations/Entries/Alumni/Social Media Coordinator, I obtained my Public Relations National Diploma from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. As a qualified Public Relations Practitioner, I look forward to using the knowledge I gained from the university to play my role at BlackBark to the best of my ability. I look forward to growing within the role and the company and taking GradStar and Rising Star to new heights.

Richard Falconer
Operations Director

Having spent a large part of my working life in the media field, after coming from a “materials handling and manufacturing background when I first started working, I have found a passion for events and media, and have gained extensive experience in exhibition/ events organizing and events management, as well as gaining experience in publishing fields and selling print advertising which puts me in a fortunate position to have a very broad knowledge base of the media and events industry. I am a big believer in team work, and that a happy team with a driven but focused approach is unstoppable, and have seen the positive results from this in my past working experience

I have been privileged enough to have organized 9 very successful and profitable Lifestyle exhibitions, each having over 35 000 visitors and over 150 different companies taking part per exhibition