Ask most South African women about mining, and chance are they’ll think of dark and dirty work, done deep in the bowels of the earth. In reality, the industry is offering a greater range of women than ever before the chance to forge meaningful careers across a range of disciplines.
Tanya Hendriks joined Anglo American Platinum in 2011 as a student, when she got a bursary to study chemical engineering. More than a decade later, she hasn’t looked back. For Diksha Pillay, who has the unusual title of Scope 3 Carbon Neutral Principal at diamond giant De Beers, mining has always been more than a business. It’s a source of possibilities and opportunities to change people’s lives. It’s not only qualified engineers making their mark in the industry, though. From humble beginnings in Limpopo, Virginia Raisibe also is making things happen for herself.
Tanya Hendriks, Metallurgical Production Engineer at Mogalakwena
Tanya Hendriks joined Anglo American Platinum in 2011 as a student, when she got a bursary to study chemical engineering. More than a decade later, she hasn’t looked back. “My journey has been challenging, but stimulating. I work with fascinating people,” she says. Her biggest challenge? Learning to manage people, especially those with more experience than her. In the end, she says, it’s all about building relationships and adding value to the business. As a woman, she believes there’s ample opportunity to contribute – but you have to be assertive: when you have earned your seat at the table, don’t be afraid to make your voice heard, and nurture the fact that you bring a different perspective to the industry.
Diksha Pillay, Scope 3 Carbon Neutral Principal
For Diksha Pillay, mining has always been more than a business. It’s a source of possibilities and opportunities to change people’s lives. She’s worked on disruptive projects that include wind energy, building innovative water solutions, working with robotics and helping communities thrive. Her current role is new to the industry: she’s establishing and driving an actionable Scope 3 strategy to reduce indirect emissions across the value chain with a goal to being carbon-neutral by 2030. She believes sustainability is about meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As a woman, it’s natural for her to integrate the two to solve the ‘right problems’, and to live her best life and realise her full potential.
Virginia Raisibe, Cleaning Supervisor
From humble beginnings in a rural Limpopo province, Virginia Raisibe is making things happen for herself. She’s not only the supervisor of all cleaning personnel at Kumba’s head office in Centurion, but she is also a SHE representative and a trained first aider – and she still finds the time to run a small business on the side to generate an extra income for her family. A self-confessed people person, she thrives on motivating her team, managing conflict, and solving problems, and she dreams of owning her own cleaning company one day. When she’s not working, she loves cooking and spending time with her family.