Women in mining – Vanessa de Villiers reflects on the importance of team work and creating harmony.
From a very young age, I always wanted to work for De Beers. Most of my family members worked for the company and I fondly remember them saying what a wonderful company De Beers was to work for. That is when I decided De Beers was the place for me someday.
My journey with De Beers started 16 years ago as a departmental secretary at Kimberley Mines. I then went on to further my studies in psychology with the help of the De Beers Study Assistance Scheme and now hold an honours in psychology. I completed the Psychometrist: Supervised Practice board exam in 2005 and the Psychometrist: Independent Practice board exam in 2011. And I am affiliated to the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
While working on my psychometry internship, I was promoted to a training officer position, after which I moved on to the role of Senior HR Officer. I then had the opportunity to take up the role of Organisational Development Practitioner for De Beers Consolidated Mines (DBCM) in Kimberley, which is where I am now. My role broadly involves transformation, performance management and the monitoring of psychometric services as well as engagement survey trends for DBCM.
I have always been blessed with managers who have supported me in all my endeavours regarding personal development. I have also been coached, both formally and informally, by individuals with many years of experience and much wisdom, and I have learned incredible lessons from them. Overall, the training opportunities I have received from De Beers have been too numerous to list, and I wouldn’t have progressed as far as I have without them.
I had the opportunity of doing my psychometry internship with De Beers. This entailed one year during which I had to complete a certain number of hours doing psychometric testing. It had to be done under the supervision of a board registered psychologist who was required to sign off all documentation and lodge it with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. This internship would not have been possible at all without the support of the company.
I view my leadership style as an affiliative one. This affiliative style emphasises the importance of team work and of striving to create harmony and trust in the team.
My philosophy on life focuses on balance. My career is a very important part of who I am, but it’s not the only thing that defines me. Being an involved mother to my daughter is a priority for me. I think the saying ‘to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today’ is a very relevant quote at this stage of my life.
I have always been in an environment where my growth has been supported by individuals who have seen my true potential. My biggest challenge has been to question some of the internal beliefs I hold about myself in order to reach my goals. I’m not quite there yet, but know where my destination is.
My advice for other women in the mining industry is not to let the fact that mining has been traditionally a man’s world stop you from following your passion. If you’ve decided on a career in mining, set yourself goals, take charge of and drive your personal development, be prepared to learn from others, anticipate challenges and consistently pursue your dreams with determination.
Outside work, I am very energetic and sporty, having completed a few Cape Argus Challenges, the Midmar Mile and a couple of half-marathons. I am also a qualified aerobics instructor and enjoy playing the piano.