Lindiwe Nakedi is the CEO of a South African 100% black-female-owned exploration drilling company that she started with her geologist husband in 2008. She holds a BA in Industrial Psychology and has no formal technical training in mining or engineering, but has achieved success in this male-dominated business through her passion and drive. One of the visions of her company is to improve the overall working and living conditions of drilling industry personnel and to become the change that she wants to see in the mining industry. She served as Chairperson of WiMSA (Women in Mining South Africa) in 2017 and 2018.
By Kathy Sole
My husband is a geologist and so I learnt a lot from him about the mining industry. He is also the one that introduced me to the world of exploration drilling.
I am currently owner and Chief Operations Officer of Gubhani Exploration. My role in the business is to ensure that Gubhani firstly has drilling work from clients and runs as per our vision.
My experience in mining has been quite a mixed bag; from getting support and encouragement from my male counterparts to having to fight off stereotypes and biased attitudes. It’s been a challenge because I do not have a mining study background, so all that I have learnt has been while working in the drilling company, so feelings of inadequacy and insecurities were the biggest hurdles that I needed to overcome.
I’ve realised I am passionate about the people. I love to see people do something meaningful with their lives from working for Gubhani, and also growing themselves from one role to another. I enjoy being out on site because I’m so much happier outdoors than behind my desk (although I don’t get to operate equipment, learning from our employees is often so eye-opening). I also really like seeing how the role we play in exploration can result in something as big as a new mine being created from the information our work provides. “A happy Client means a happy Contractor!”
I have never really had formal mentors or sponsors, but I do have people I hold in high regard who have taken the time whenever I would reach out for advice or help; and they’ve always been great sounding boards for me.
I think I definitely had to adapt; more from the fact that I did not study anything mining- or engineering-related and I found that any time anyone did not take me seriously was because they thought I was just a pretty face (a figure of speech, but hopefully I am pretty!) and did not have much technical detailed knowledge of drills. And that’s where the fast learning had to happen! I think that most males I’ve worked closely with have shown me respect because I know what I am talking about and I am now much more confident. But I was also willing to be taught by my male counterparts where it was necessary and most times I did not take to heart the negative comments or attitudes: I roll with the punches and just move on. Men and women are so different in their approach to situations and just life in general, so all it takes is to learn from the other…makes life so much easier. But yes, adapting was necessary!
Own a mine! I would love to contribute on a much larger scale in the mining industry after contracting for more than 10 years. And I would also love to venture into the energy sector.
I wish that I had been told to trust my judgement and believe in myself more. To be confident in my own vision and truth.
Some of the business decisions I’ve made along the way have taught me what not to do when dealing with some clients. And to also be selective concerning the type of client I would rather deal with because some can bankrupt you! Some mistakes were from being naïve, but they made me a better business person today.
Not currently, but I would like to be considered.
I think that until we have enough women who can have an influence on some decisions made by companies regarding gender mainstreaming, then quotas need to be considered. We have seen that when there is no requirement by legislation to see transformation through, then nothing gets done. Unfortunately, when we wait for a natural progression for change to happen, it takes much longer. But our work then as women’s organisations is to ensure that there are women who are ready and well-equipped to occupy those positions on boards.
Absolutely! One of our programs at WiMSA [the South African branch] is a Career Day that we run with high-school learners to expose them to careers in the mining industry. And it’s always amazing to see and hear the learners comment that they did not realise how broad the careers are in mining and that it’s not just for miners who go underground! We get to have eye-opening sessions where female engineers, geos, technologists, and even lawyers present on their roles on the mines. The more well-informed women are, the better and more attractive the sector becomes. And having mentors from university level also helps a lot. We just need to find a way to retain the women as changes happen.
Opportunities are many if you’re willing to ask questions and learn. Be willing to start right at the bottom. No task is beneath you, even when you have an honours degree, because your work ethic and attitude are what will speak volumes. And take initiative! Don’t wait to be given opportunities or wait to be fully competent: just take a chance and know that you will learn to swim even if you’ve been thrown into that deep end.
Maybe not so much balance, but rather harmony. Sometimes my time is filled with more work to do than life and that’s okay, as long as I am fitting in pockets of activities that ensure that I am healthy and my kids are taken care of, whether by my husband or our extended family. And then there are also times when I’m doing more life than work and that too is fine. I just tend to go with the flow of what feels right at any given moment or situation, as long as neither of the two are suffering. Whatever my goals are and what I consider as most important in my life—that is what I try to create harmony around.
Honestly, I’ve bought a number of books over the past two years and have probably only read a few pages of each. That is the one thing I struggle with making time for. (Maybe also because I have a two-year old who has kept me on my toes!) But I love reading about purpose, leadership, and autobiographies. Recent books that I have selected include The Soul of Leadership – Deepak Chopra; Being – Michelle Obama and The 5AM Club – Robin Sharma.
I picked up ballet after my 9-year old son was born in 2010 and at some point I was teaching little children to dance. I really love dancing. I figure I would love for that to be my retiring career!
Lindiwe Nakedi is Owner and Managing Director of Gubhani Exploration, a South African 100% black-female-owned surface diamond drilling company. She has 10 years’ experience in exploration drilling, contracting for companies such as Coal of Africa (now MC Mining), Exxaro, Nkomati Mine of African Rainbow Minerals, De Beers, and South32. She served as Chairperson of WiMSA (Women in Mining South Africa) in 2017 and 2018 and is now Patron Liaison in the organisation. She currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Mincon Transformation Trust. In 2018 she was selected as one of Top 100 Global Inspirational Women in Mining. Prior to her entry into the mining industry, she was the founder/co-founder of numerous businesses and organisations, including The People Shop, a successful recruitment agency within the Supply Chain Management industry, and Shekinah Academy of Arts, an extra-mural activities school that teaches dance, music, and fine arts to economically disadvantaged children. Lindi holds a BA Industrial Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand and completed the New Managers Program from Wits Business School focused on Business Management.
Lindi has been married for fourteen years and is a mother of three. She believes her purpose is to leave a legacy and give back to the next generation the resources and skills needed to take them to the next level of achievement.