RESEARCH GROUP LEADER | CSIR

WHO WERE YOUR ROLE MODELS DURING THE PIVOTAL STAGES OF YOUR LIFE?
In my professional career, I was inspired by Dipuo Peters – former South African minister of energy from 2009-2013 – for the works she achieved in her tenure. I also looked up to Nelisiwe Magubane, the former director
general of the Department of Energy and currently an Eskom board member.

Both of them were a strong female team that led South Africa to the energy transition that we see today. As a young girl, I was inspired by Khanyi Dlomo and what she was able to achieve at a young age, having become an
editor of True Love magazine at the age of 22.

This article first appeared in The African Power & Energy Elites, 2019. You can read the full digital magazine here, or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A SUCCESSFUL LEADER?
Being a good listener as a leader is very important – in a position of power it is easy to give out instructions without listening to the feedback. Additionally, a leader should be stern in their decision making; there is
nothing more frustrating than a leader who cannot make decisions – sometimes unpopular decisions are needed to be made and a true leader needs to stand behind that in order to achieve the best outcomes in the long term.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST STRENGTHS?
I have built a committed team that understands their individual roles and the objectives behind the long-term goal and more importantly the short-term deliverables.

WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST BLIND SPOTS?
As we work in a fast-paced environment with multiple targets to hit, I often take on too much, which means that I don’t allow myself to do a proper assessment of the time required to optimally achieve each task set. As a result, I have learned to decline some opportunities in order to make maximum impact on the current tasks. I’ve learned that just because you’re doing a lot more, it doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done – quality over quantity.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING IN YOUR OPINION THAT PEOPLE COMMONLY MISCONCEIVE ABOUT YOU?
People often think that I am outgoing due to my public appearances and the large speaker presentations that I give; however, I am quite the opposite as I am an introvert by nature. My career has pushed me to come out of my
shell and impart my knowledge to others. Having missed out on opportunities due to being introverted, I send my son to public speaking classes and encourage him to speak out as those who are quiet often miss out on great opportunities.

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR KEEPING A TEAM MOTIVATED?
A leader has to have a strong will for business results, teamed with a good understanding of individual team member’s strengths. When recognised for their individual strengths and contributions, people are encouraged and
motivated to continue focusing their efforts in order to achieve the short and long-term goals.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST RISK YOU’VE EVER TAKEN?
I left a permanent role in a municipality after having worked there for eight years in order to pursue a two-year contract position in a business-to-business space. Although I grew anxious about unemployment toward the end of my contract, this actually turned out to be a great springboard to better career opportunities.

WHEN CONSIDERING A NEW PARTNERSHIP, WHAT FACTORS ARE DEAL-BREAKERS FOR YOU?
The biggest deal-breaker for me is negotiating in bad faith. As soon as I smell foul play, I walk away. Secondly, clarity on the roles and responsibilities of a partnership needs to be stipulated upfront to avoid any potential issues later on.

WHICH OF YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS WERE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO DEVELOP?
For me it is public speaking; as I said earlier on, I am an introvert by nature. However, my role means that I need to educate and impart knowledge to others, which means speaking to large crowds or groups. I’ve worked hard to develop this skill.

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LEADERSHIP LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?
One thing I learned, from one of Richard Branson’s books, is that you need to invest in your employees. If your employees are happy they will take care of your clients, and that’s good for business.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER?
Having been a part of the development of the renewable energy industry in South Africa, driving the localisation programme and ensuring that the country achieves local manufacturing of renewable energy components is what I am proudest of.

HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE BALANCE IN YOUR LIFE?
My family and children need me as much as my work does; therefore I make sure that, as much as possible, I get home in time to spend evenings with the kids and do things like dinner and homework together. I can then do some more work before going to bed.

WHAT’S THE BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ THIS YEAR?
Manuscripts Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho, which I have kept as my reference book for motivation. I am currently reading Mind Power by John
Kehoe.

WHAT TREND IN THE GLOBAL ENERGY SPACE DO YOU SEE BECOMING INTRINSIC TO THE OVERALL POWER NETWORK, AND WHAT TREND WILL FADE?
The energy sector is at a crossroads and there is a global need to decarbonise our systems. If you look at South Africa’s Integrated Resource
Plan (IRP), it is bringing online clean and affordable power. At the same time, there is a slow shift away from the traditional utility model to more decentralised systems, where we will soon see an increased number of IPPs integrating and feeding power directly into the national electricity grid.

Another global trend is digitisation, where smart systems are required
to effectively integrate increased renewables into the energy mix network. Additionally, decarbonisation of the transport sector is on the upward trajectory where e-mobility is gaining traction in the global market.

This article first appeared in The African Power & Energy Elites, 2019. You can read the full digital magazine here, or subscribe here to receive a print copy.