Did you experience challenges as a female graduate in engineering?
When I studied Industrial Engineering at the University of Pretoria, I was one of six women out of about 40 students. Work life was tough to start, and I feel I had to try doubly hard to prove myself – partly because I am a woman but also, because of the nature of Industrial Engineering, we typically receive criticism because our focus is to improve people’s systems and processes, which result in big changes for individuals within the organisation. Not easy as a young woman fresh out of varsity!
What’s your key focus as an Industrial Engineer?
Business improvement is the main objective of my career as an Industrial Engineer. And since nothing is ever optimised, it’s a life’s work! Fortunately, if you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll show you I can. It motivates me to try harder.
Do you have a career highlight to share as a businesswoman in aviation?
I achieved my greatest career highlight at ACSA. My first project was to design, develop, test, and implement an Airport Management Centre that would deliver the 2010 FIFA World Cup. During my 14 years with ACSA, we also managed Madiba’s funeral and all major events including the start of the Covid period out of that control centre. It’s something I’m immensely proud and privileged to have been a part of; it taught me things that most people would never be exposed to in a lifetime.
What’s your role at Fireblade?
At Fireblade, my role is about processes and making the best use of the resources at hand to develop the business. Private aviation has a different dynamic to commercial aviation – this model calls for a different skill set as I focus on moving Fireblade’s business forward.
Best advice ever received?
Never get attached to your solutions! You can’t learn and progress if you get defensive about your solutions. I apply this to my role every day. That, and “pick your battles – at home, and at work!” Time is precious, so decide what’s important to you!
If I could give encouragement to any young person wanting to further themselves through study – believe the sky is the limit:
“If you put your mind to it, you can achieve almost anything – but it comes with sacrifice.
If it’s truly important, it’s easier to make that sacrifice.”