The Rising Star Programme, operated by BlackBark Productions, has been established for the purposes of recognising, celebrating and connecting young talented people who have a capacity for achievement and success and who contribute in an inspirational manner to the future of our nation. The qualities that elevate Rising Stars to the top go beyond performance and technical excellence. Rising Stars are polished, brilliant individuals with tremendous promise and great talent who excel for reasons that go far beyond their technical abilities alone.

Talented people make things happen, are highly committed to achieving goals, innovate very rapidly, and create a great deal of value (for companies and/or themselves) when their talent is spotted and harnessed.

The Programme aims to be a significant and sustainable vehicle through which organisations, our country and our continent can identify and nurture these “organisational and national assets” who are set to play a key role in shaping the future of our country and our continent.

The Rising Star Programme is establishing a living community of young African talent that will be developed, mentored and provided with platforms for development and communication, therefore enabling them to become role models, opinion leaders and the inspiration for other future African Talent.

Laura Barker

Managing Director, BlackBark Productions

Laura is the founder of the Rising Star and GradStar future leader recognition programmes, now in their 11th and 7th year respectively. She also developed and founded the GradStar app, designed to match students with their ideal employers. She has a wealth of experience working with young people, organisations and companies alike and is deeply committed to uplifting and celebrating the youth of South Africa. She believes the amazing talent South Africa has to offer promises a bright future.

Charmaine Docherty

Project Manager Rising Star Awards

Charmaine has been in the event and media industry since 2004.

Titles and events that she has worked on includes, Top Women in Business Publication and Awards, ESG South Africa the official publication at COP17 and RIO+20 and COP18 in Qatar and beyond, and Impumelelo Publication and Awards to name but a few.

She is passionate about uplifting and recognising talent and youth development and believes that the programmes that she is involved with currently, Rising Star Awards, Gradstar Awards uplifts and supports our countries future leaders

Tanya Smalberger

Head Of Events: Rising Star & GradStar Programmes

Tanya is the event manager for the Rising Star Awards. Tanya comes from a strong FMCG and logistics background having previously worked for Olive Tree Farm and MC Bros Fruit and Veg  in the Eastern Cape. Tanya is passionate about maintaining strong client relationships and thrives in the fast paced world of event management through her process driven mindset.