‘If I have it I deserve it!’
“I know… people think what a strange interest for a woman! But I don’t think about myself as a business woman, I am a business person and I don’t have doubts about myself. Doubt is the worst thing in life. I know I am qualified and have the skills to do what I do and I go out and do it,” says this dynamic business woman whose vision is to contribute to sustainable solutions and the greening of our beautiful continent.
“Somehow I did not choose this career, geology chose me,” she laughs.
After school she wanted to study engineering but there was no space left in the course and she made an impromptu decision on geology.
“The study of rocks! But I loved it right from the start. After finishing my BSc Geology and then honours degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, I worked as a geologist in a gold mine in the Free State and then in North West. I was one of the first very few woman to work underground in South Africa. What a culture shock but what an experience. I actually enjoyed going underground. As a geologist it is the best training, you really see what you have read in text books.”
I am such a dreamer and I love that about myself.
After this she joined the Department of Mineral Resources and worked with mineral regulations, evaluating mining rights applications, amongst other things. And then she did a stint at Eskom as geologist in the coal procuring field.
She was also a board member of the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator.
“It was during my time working with mines that I developed an interest in sustainable mining and the environment.”
“Then an opportunity to study my MBA degree in Milan in Italy presented itself and I just packed my bags, leaving my husband and children to figure it out,” she laughs
“I was at a point where I was not professionally challenged anymore and I needed a change. I have an amazing husband who encourages me to do what makes me happy. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have done half of the things I have accomplished.”
After obtaining an MBA and back from Italy five years ago, Ntombifuthi struggled to find work. “But I became an entrepreneur by default and with my interest in sustainable mining and the environment, Luhlaza Integrated Sustainable Solutions was founded. “We do research and consult in respect of sustainability and climate change in the mining and agricultural sectors. This ties in with the doctorate degree I am busy with. I am addressing the question whether mines are properly rehabilitating toward closure and sustainable post-closure land use. Is it really rehabilitated with the end-use in mind, and how can the land be sustainably used after the mine closure?”
She hopes to complete her research by 2020.
Being a woman in the business world is a challenge. “ And also proving yourself as the new kid on the block! Women have to work ten times harder than men, but I don’t even see that as a disadvantage, I just do it. It is all about how we project ourselves. Us women have to blow our own horns. We must take things and not ask permission. I have learnt a very important thing: If I have it, I deserve it! My motto is to ask myself what is the worst that can happen? If I get a ‘NO’, I just pick up and carry on.”
Between the business and her studies, she does not have a lot of free time, but when she is not working or studying, she devotes her time to her husband, Sholo, and children, Tshiamo (12) and Thebe (7).
“I have no work/personal life balance issues. Life is just life. When I spend time with them, it is quality time and I don’t struggle with guilt when someone else has to pick them up from school. If I am a happy businesswoman, I am a happy mom and wife.”
She met her husband, Sholo, at university. “We complement each other. Any leisure time, we spend with the kids at home. Sholo loves to cook and he often has cooking sessions with the children. It is very entertaining,” she laughs.
“And as a family we reward ourselves with travel. This goes for the children’s school work as well. I just love travelling. I have so may places on my bucket list. I will travel for a living if someone will pay me a salary,” she chuckles.
“Travelling opens up your mind and for me it makes me appreciate home again”.
She has travelled to Europe and America and would now love to see more of Africa. And of course Australia, and South America and…
“The sky is not even the limit for me. I am such a dreamer and I love that about myself. I just throw it into the universe…”