In what’s known as a ‘man’s world’, some women are taking steps and breaking barriers for more and more women to dominate the field. Such is the case for 31-year-old Snethemba Mpontshane, a former Majuba TVET College engineering student, and now a qualified Senior Electrician at Eskom based at the Kusile Power Station.
Born and raised in KwaSishwili in Ulundi, Snethemba always knew she was destined for greatness, thanks to the love, support and guidance she received from her role model and mentor; her mother. ”My mother has always been my role model. She is the strongest and most multi-talented woman I know. She is passionate and caring and has always aspired me to follow my dreams, and she will forever remain my everything, my nurse and my hero.”
Snethemba excelled in school in subjects such as Mathematics and Science, which is what inspired her to sign up for the Year of the Artisan at Majuba TVET College in 2006, where she began her trade in N1 Electrical Engineering. While there, she focused on Mathematics, Industrial Electronics, Engineering Science and Electro Technology. ”I grew up with two brothers so naturally I developed a passion for all things electronic. We would try to fix anything that had to do with electricity. I remember we once opened a two-plate stove just to see what was inside it and what made it generate heat and electricity,” she said.
Snethemba also admitted that from an early age she knew she wanted to work in the engineering industry. This motivated her to excel in her studies and pursue a career at Eskom. ”I remember my father once tried to decide a career for me, and I asked him not to choose a different career for me, as I was happy with my engineering choice.” For Snethemba, working at a company such as Eskom has been a great journey for her, where she learned something new on a daily basis, such as safety, production, quality and even job planning. ”Electrical engineering as a whole has made my dreams come true. I had always prayed I would get into a big company such as Eskom, and it feels as if God answered my prayers.”
She also admitted that in a once male orientated industry, more women could dominate the field provided they had the correct attitude, attention to detail, respect, determination and the willingness to learn from their seniors. Being a former student of Majuba TVET, Snethemba firmly believed the college was a great stepping stone for students, as she believed it provided a platform where engineering students could be spotted by major companies looking to employ talented and skilled staff. “I know of many students who have gone on to work for major companies following their studies, so I would advise anyone looking to go into the industry to start their journey at Majuba TVET.”
Her advice to women who may be considering engineering as a career, is that when it comes to the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, you have to work harder to get the recognition you deserve. “What used to be a man’s playground is a place for women too; Amandla!” she said excitedly. When asked where she saw herself in 10 years time, Snethemba said she hoped to be a highly successful woman dominating in the field of engineering science and technology. ”Ever since I was in school, my mission has always been to say ‘no’ to failure. The idea of possibly failing makes me push even harder to achieve my goals. My life’s motto is whatever leadership looks like to you, whether at home, at the office and even in the world, always remember you are an inspiration to those who follow your path. If anyone doubts how far you can go in life, the push through it and go so far that you no longer hear them,” she concluded.