By Sinazo Mkoko
With over 23 years of experience as a civil servant, Deputy Director at the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition (DTIC), Dr. Nthabiseng Maude Mthethwa, is committed to serving and creating more jobs for South Africans.
Since joining the organisation, she’s contributed to growth and improvement. She has built and led many teams and encouraged them to empower themselves in the process by attending courses that the department offers and sector-focused courses in agro-processing and aquaculture.
She says she believes that she has what it takes to be a leading woman in the public sector.
“I seriously consider myself to have been sent to fulfil some destiny, to leave a mark, inspire, create, and ensure that this world becomes a better place. I have made my mark in my twenty-three years as a civil servant, upskilling and upscaling myself to better serve and passionately deliver during my tenure in office,” she said.
Former DTIC Minister, Dr. Rob Davies, entrusted her with the management of board positions, a responsibility she’s had for six years, which is two full terms in the Incentives Unit.
“Currently, I serve in the Batho Pele Forum to make sure that the department complies, especially in terms of openness, transparency, and access to information. I was deployed to Asia in 2010 for the World Expo to represent South Africa for three months. I have worked with the export councils to assist them with their mandate to represent the department, in the past, as the advisor, and just to make sure that the vision is aligned,” she says.
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Touching on the challenges and rewards she’s seen in her position, Nthabiseng shared that she’s mostly not at home as she handles international relations for the DTIC. Along with a cross-cultural understanding, this position touches lives in global markets and involves being accountable and adaptable.
“Through the role I have played in promoting business linkages and building relationships, both nationally and internationally, I’ve also participated in many state visits, both outward and inward, through the President’s office, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and embassies.
“I have also served on the Wellness Committee and even won the award for being one of the most dedicated employees on our team. I was fortunate enough to have been chosen to go to Israel on a scholarship programme to further my studies in the management of HIV and AIDS.”
In 2003, Nthabiseng led forty South African business women to the Global Summit of Women in Marrakesh, Morocco, with the then Deputy Minister, Lindiwe Hendricks. She also facilitated and led a delegation of 15 emerging farmers to Minneapolis, in the US, to seek opportunities, joint venture partners, and new technology in farming. Along with her other accolades, she has also been recognised by the Turkish Women’s Chamber for the Award of Excellence.
“I have been to more than 54 countries doing investment promotion, facilitation, and diplomacy work. As part of Team South Africa, we have brought several companies to invest in South Africa and have taken South African companies through the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition abroad to seek joint venture opportunities and more export opportunities. As a leader of our department, I have groomed many interns who are now in higher management positions. As a department, we prioritise gender empowerment, and we are on track as most women are now in senior positions,” she said.
In 2022, Dr. Nthabiseng Maude Mthethwa won the Standard Bank Top Women Leader in Public Sector award.
On the hopes she has for the department’s future, she says she hopes she imparts leadership skills, gains management experience, and empowers as many team members as possible by instilling ‘Batho Pele’ principles.
“Putting people first and leading by example is my priority as I sit in the Batho Pele Forum, knowing that empowerment principles are applied at all times.” –
Dr. Nthabiseng Mthethwa.