Having started her business journey in recruitment, Lindiwe Nakedi made the bold move to switch careers from human resources to mining. She cites her husband, who is a geologist in the mining industry, as having played a key role in the move. “He suggested that we go into drilling because he saw that exploration drilling was quite lucrative and that it had the potential to put us in the position to realise the vision that we had for our future”, she said. Adding that the change in industry was a challenge that she was keen to take on.
At the outset of Lindiwe’s mining career, being a business that was black-owned and female-led was a key differentiator. Her company was empowered, and young, and came with a different approach that emphasised core quality. “We wanted to meet client expectations and deliver on quality because the core is what gives them the information that they need for future plans for the mines. This was what set Gubhani Exploration apart at the start of its journey.”
Talking more about the role that having a family played in her business career, Lindiwe articulates a personal drive for her business success. “Despite not having children when we started our business, it was always our hope to leave a legacy for our children one day. We wanted to build something that would inspire the next generation,” she said. Adding that offering her children an example of what can be achieved, when you put your mind to something, was a motivating factor for her as a businesswoman.
Looking back on her journey since that initial time in the industry, the now mother-of-three concedes that the road to achieving what she had set out to do in business, has not been without its cost. She revealed to Top Women Leaders just how much of a roller coaster ride business can be.
“We landed our first project because we were able to prove that we could get equipment in on time, after taking the risk of flying equipment to site, beating our competitors. That’s when we started seeing growth, however, just a couple of years later, things started going the other way around because of the economic downturn.
“Then, our main client was stopped because of a water licence issue. We suddenly were not getting business anymore,” she elaborated.
Having become a mother by that time, Lindiwe Nakedi shared that her biggest motivator at that point was to provide for her children. “I started looking for alternative ways to ensure that my family still is cared for. This has been the main challenge as a mother in business; it’s always been hard to balance work and family because you sometimes find yourself working so hard, not wanting to risk your family suffering, but then it suffers because you’re spending long hours trying at work,” she said.
She went on to say that “being a mother in business can be tough because, while you’re working, trying to ensure their material well being, you tend to be hard on yourself for being away from them for long stretches. In reality, children rarely need all of the material benefits that your business brings, they just need your love, attention, and support”, she added.
This became all the more apparent when Lindiwe got involved as the Chairperson of Women in Mining South Africa. As a result of the role, there were a lot more demands on her time. The experience led her to the realisation that there was a need for balance and to keep her priorities in line. “It’s still a challenge and I’m still striving for harmony,” she continued.
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Lindiwe cites having a robust support structure as having played a major role in her ability to pursue success in business and at home. She attributes her success to having a supportive husband in particular.” In my case, my husband has been a great support over the years because we get to lean on each other. If I can’t be there for something, then he will be there and vice-versa. It’s been good to have a partner willing to help when I need him to”, she said before going on to attribute her true driving force to the word of God.
“I use the Word to guide how I try to treat other people and how I look at my life or my business. It is a very spiritual backing or encouragement that I give myself to keep moving forward and keep striving for perfection, because I know whenever I’m working, I’m not just working for myself but rather so that God can be glorified through all that I do.”
Today, despite the ongoing struggle for balance, Lindiwe has come into her own as a businesswoman, industry influencer and, most importantly, as a mother to the next generation of South Africa’s leaders. Having just celebrated her 41st birthday, the mining mogul shares her advice to mothers in business: “It’s always good to have a support structure of at least your family, and to have people around you that you can trust to support you in both family and business”, she concluded.