Thandi Mazibuko grew up in a small community near Rio Tinto’s Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) operation in KwaZulu-Natal.
As a young child, when walking to school, she would see RBM vehicles driving past and she decided she wanted to work for the same company.
Little did she know that one day she would become the first African woman appointed to the position of manager, Mining Plants at RBM.
“It was my dream to work for Rio Tinto and here I am all these years later. When I joined the company I was a young girl with a vision. Through career growth and development opportunities offered by Rio Tinto, I have realised many of my goals,” says Thandi.
Some of these opportunities, says Thandi, have included being awarded a bursary for her undergraduate degree and being selected to participate in the African Leadership Institute’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship 2016 programme.
“The fellowship programme helped me to understand leadership better, how to interact with different people, and gave me a global perspective. Of course meeting Desmond Tutu was a highlight as he has such great vision for Africa,” says Thandi.
Thandi Mazibuko, the first African woman to be appointed manager, Mining Plants at RBM
Embracing diverse viewpoints
Thandi is a metallurgist and her first role at RBM, in 2005, was as an assistant operator. She completed several leadership programmes and is currently doing a course with the Gordon Institute of Business Science through the Rio Tinto bursary scheme.
“Rio Tinto embraces and values diversity. As a woman in the mining industry it can be challenging but the company has ensured that woman are accepted and supported in the business. On my journey I have had good mentorship and coaching.”
Although there are many opportunities at Rio Tinto for career growth, Thandi says that it is also up to each person to make an effort and take initiatives.
“When it comes down to it, you need to make things happen. It’s about hard work, perseverance and determination.
“It’s also about the small things too, like speaking up at meetings when you have something to add.”
Thandi is passionate about mining operations and leadership. She says she enjoys being in a company where the views of employees are welcomed and people are encouraged to give input where something can be done better.
“I’m fortunate to have found a company that is a good fit with my skills and my values.”