“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” — Margaret Thatcher
As South Africans commemorate Women’s month, Nankhoo Consulting Engineers embraces the opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the contribution of our female staff members. With 50% female ownership in Nankhoo Consulting Engineers, the workforce also reflects this trend of active female participation. In an industry which has been predominantly “male dominated”, Nankhoo Consulting Engineers have gone against the grain as its workforce comprises of 49% females. Females within the organisation perform key roles ranging from financial administration, tender documentation and reporting as well as construction monitoring.
Q: What are some of your roles and responsibilities at Nankhoo Consulting Engineers?
I am responsible for the overall management of Nankhoo Consulting Engineers head office. This ensures the smooth operation of office and staff activities through management of all administrative processes such as, work delegation and management of records/files to provide efficient work flow. Great emphasis is constantly placed on staff development and training. All these tasks are achieved through a dedicated and enthusiastic team at Nankhoo Consulting Engineers.
Q: How do you manage your time, being a mother, a wife as well as Business Executive?
At Nankhoo Consulting Engineers we are a purpose-driven company which makes it easier to juggle a career and an active home life. I take the commitment to my family very seriously and have thus integrated flexible work hours into my schedule to ensure a balanced work and family life. Taking care of our family is a shared responsibility. When my children were born, my career was temporarily put on hold. In the year 2000 I joined Nankhoo Consulting Engineers and having my own business allowed me the flexibility to adjust my working hours. My responsibilities to the businesses and to family life are sometimes challenging, but devoting time to both is essential to achieving a work-life balance.
Q: You are also a Director at Mobelli Outdoor Furniture. How do you cope with the pressure that one would expect with these added responsibilities?
With Nankhoo Consulting Engineer’s objective of empowering all our employees to take ownership of their work and to work independently is a key factor for success at both companies. Sharing responsibilities and having the ability to delegate allows me to prioritise my schedule in a more effective manner, always remembering to be direct and remaining focused on our business goals. My husband and I prioritize vacation time in order to rejuvenate and refresh ourselves. This helps strengthen our companies and encourages a healthy work-life balance.
Q: As a woman, what are some of the challenges that you experience in performing your duties?
The main challenge for female business executives is similar to the challenge female engineers encounter. There just aren’t enough of us, “there aren’t enough women in leadership positions to be role models”. Women often lack the support of other female business leaders.
Q: What is your message to the women of Nankhoo Consulting Engineers?
For many young, successful women, “making it” professionally means learning to master male-dominated workplaces. Let your voice be heard, vocalize which opportunities and projects you want and let your manager know what you’d like to work on.
Don’t try to be a man. You made it to where you are through hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, you’re here. Don’t conform yourself to a man’s idea of what a leader should look like. Have confidence in your abilities and be prepared. Often a woman’s ideas are scrutinised more than their male colleagues. I also think many women naturally have extraordinary common sense, a sharp intuition and a great focus on people. These are extremely valuable in the business environment. At Nankhoo Consulting Engineers our vision is to develop leaders. The quicker we achieve a “culture of leadership” within the organisation, the faster we can lead in our relevant fields.
At Nankhoo Consulting Engineers, women are empowered to the same level as the men thus creating an environment where no stereotypes exist. There is an annual tradition within the organisation to acknowledge our female contributions by treating them to a lunch or breakfast. This year the females will get to indulge in a women’s month breakfast at Elangeni hotel for some well deserved pampering.