“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa.
Serving almost two decades in the mining industry, Thabile Makgala, Implats Executive: Eastern Limb, is a Mining Engineer with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering (cum laude) and an MBA. Thabile also holds a Mine Managers Certificate of Competency, as well as a Mine Overseers Certificate of Competency. She is a member of the South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa.
As a director and patron of Women in Mining South Africa (WiMSA), Thabile is a strong proponent for the advancement of women in mining and has been recognised globally for her work in this area. She was one of 16 South African women featured in the 2018 list of ‘Top 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining’ compiled by the London-based non-profit organisation, Women in Mining UK.
Thabile on social responsibility initiatives:
“WiMSA is a non-profit organisation that provides a platform for women in the industry to network and encourages them to seek guidance and be mentored by other professionals in the industry, so that they too can flourish in this male-dominated industry, which can be challenging for female employees.
“WiMSA has various outreach initiatives, including the promotion of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) skills among female learners in high school and at tertiary institutions through our WiMSA career day workshops aimed at promoting careers in the mining industry to young women.
“Through WiMSA, we also support the Frida Hartley Shelter for destitute women and children in Yeoville, Johannesburg. This initiative is very close to my heart as women should support and empower other women who are less fortunate than themselves. On a biannual basis we collect food, clothes, toys, books and other essentials which we donate to the home.”
Her five tips on surviving and thriving in business:
- Be yourself; find your space and make your voice heard.
- Take charge of your own development and grasp opportunities that come your way, even when they take you out of your comfort zone.
- Do not be concerned about what others think of you and your abilities. With confidence, determination, the right support and mentorship, you can achieve the impossible.
- Support other women, especially in the mining industry. Harness their potential and lift them up so they can thrive, because when women thrive, the organisation thrives for everyone’s benefit.
- Never ever give up on your dreams.
How have you implemented gender driven development in the workplace?
We have taken decisive steps over the past two years to improve our approach to creating an environment conducive to gender equality and to address barriers to the employment, retention and the advancement of women.
Our diversity and employment equity strategy and action plans at our South African operations align with the Mining Charter III targets and with our plans and policies aimed at fostering our desired organisational culture.
Our operational transformation steering committees play a key role in driving the strategic plans. All our operations are implementing five-year employment equity plans (2020 to 2024).
How has gender empowerment strengthened your organisation?
Our commitment to employee diversity is driven not only by strong compliance requirements, but also by the belief that a more inclusive and diverse organisation is ultimately more competitive and successful. For Implats, gender diversity is a business imperative.
Our commitment to gender diversity is reflected in the fact that Implats is one of 350 global companies listed in the Bloomberg 2021 Gender-Equality Index (GEI), which recognises companies committed to transparency in gender reporting and advancing women’s equality in the workplace. The GEI measures gender equality across five pillars: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand. The company also qualified as a 2020 “Top Gender Empowered Company” in Standard Bank’s Top Women Leaders Awards.
What are your organisation’s gender equality and BEE ratings and policies?
We made good progress in our 2020 financial year in promoting equitable representation at all levels at our South African operations. At year end we had 179 females in management positions (22%) across the Group (153 in South Africa).
At our South Africa operations, women made up 12% of our total workforce, with 9% in the core disciplines of mining, engineering, projects and metallurgy. At Implats board level, female representation increased from 38% to 46%.
What technological innovations are you using in your organisation to keep in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)?
The Implats MyImplats mobile app provides the CEO and his executive team with up-to-date, consolidated external market information and internal performance information through a single interface, delivered via a mobile device. We are also implementing face recognition technology to cater for the health and safety of our employees at the operations.
How are you using social media to create more business?
Our Company-managed social media platforms are used to share information about the business with a variety of stakeholders, to engage those who are interested in and affected by our business, and to manage our corporate reputation by demonstrating how we are working towards our vision, mission and purpose, founded in a strong set of corporate values that drive our new culture.
What is your position on doing business in Africa?
Africa as a continent faces many challenges, including its marginalisation from the global economy, insufficient development finance, healthcare and poor infrastructure. Leadership challenges are also a challenge. There are, however, compelling sector investment opportunities in Africa, such as oil and gas, and an abundance of minerals, making Africa a lucrative place to conduct business.
What skills do you think leaders of the future are going to need?
Future leaders need the requisite skills and qualities to lead organisations in a world disrupted by technology. They need to inspire, develop talent and drive innovation in their organisations.
Future leaders need to be able to lead and motivate diverse teams with various generation gaps that result in complexities in the workplace. They also need to be agile and learn to base company decisions on facts and data as opposed to mostly relying on employee experience.
Which female leaders inspire you the most, and why?
I am inspired by numerous female leaders, including my mom, due to her grit and her abilities to overcome challenges despite adversities. Another female leader that inspires and motivates me the most, who I admire and respect so much, is the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern.
She has demonstrated sheer determination and led with compassion during challenging world events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. She is agile, embraces diversity and has applied a modern approach to leadership, a trait that many leaders have not yet embraced.
Impala Platinum Holding Limited (Implats) is a leading producer of platinum group metals (PGMs). Implats has six mining operations and the toll refining business, Impala Refining Services. Its mines are located on three of the most significant PGM deposits in the world: the Bushveld Complex in South Africa, the Canadian Shield in North America and the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe. Implats’ mining operations include Impala Rustenburg, Zimplats, Marula, Impala Canada’s Lac des Iles, Mimosa and Two Rivers. The Group’s head office is in Johannesburg.
Implats employs more than 50 000 people, including contractors, across its operations. At the end of its 2020 financial year, Implats had available PGM mineral resources of 277 million 6E ounces and mineral reserves of 47.8 million 6E ounces. Group-refined PGM production for FY2020 was 2.8 million ounces, which included 1.3 million ounces of platinum, 900 000 ounces of palladium and 200 000 ounces of rhodium. The markets for the group’s products are primarily South Africa, Japan, China, the US and Europe.
The company’s vision is to be the world’s best PGM producer, sustainably delivering superior value to all its stakeholders.
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