Could Exxaro’s head of coal become its first female CEO?
Nombasa Tsengwa is one of very few female executives in the mining industry and although she’s not aiming for the top job just yet, it’s important to her to make a difference.
By David McKay Nombasa Tsengwa Executive head of coal operations at Exxaro Resources
Back in 2006, during the first few years after agreement was reached on a Mining Charter, there was intense pressure to achieve headline-grabbing transformation on targets such as ownership transfer. One wonders to what extent the equally important aspiration of employment equity – especially in respect of women in mining – was given the right attention.
But Tsengwa thinks the role played by women in mining has improved nonetheless. Roughly 13% of the SA mining workforce is female, and 17% of total employees in coal mining specifically consists of women – a significant improvement in the last ten years.
On executive and top management alone, Exxaro jumped 33% from zero base between 2012 and 2017. “The new Mining Charter targets are very steep, but good inroads have been achieved,” she says.
“We have female artisans, mine overseers, shift bosses, production superintendents or managers. Without this core pipeline, female mine managers and future executive heads of coal will never materialise,” she says.
“All the core women I interact with at Exxaro believe it’s through experience, growth and results that success is derived.”
Given that the last head of coal at Exxaro went on to become its CEO – Mxolisi Mgojo – one wonders whether it’s a matter of time before Exxaro gets its first female CEO?
Tsengwa plays a straight bat, though: “I trained myself in mindfulness, focusing more on the present moment than dreams,” she says. “To me it’s not about the position; my aspiration is always to make a difference in the lives of our employees and communities where we operate, while adding value to stakeholders’ investments.” ■ edito[email protected]week.co.za
Exxaro Resources is one of South Africa’s largest coal producers.