Receiving training in the Diversity 360 programme developed by Hitachi ABB Power Grids has been of great assistance in comprehending the importance of inclusivity and cultural awareness in the workplace, according to Production and Test Manager Sibongile Ntombela.
The company has set ambitious diversity and inclusion targets by 2025 through its Diversity 360 initiative. This is based on the idea that diversity in thought and experience will enable a dynamic solutions-orientated culture of innovation and collaboration that allows employees to deliver its mission of providing sustainable energy solutions in accordance with its Sustainability 2030 business strategy.
Ntombela has a BSc in Technology Management from the University of Pretoria and is currently studying for her Master’s in Engineering Management.
“I manage production processes to ensure system design and functionality alignment, in conjunction with de-livering on business goals and productivity targets. I also ensure that the teams deliver work packages on time and to the quality and target cost requirements”, she says.
Her career at Hitachi ABB Power Grids has rapidly progressed from Testing Technician to Test Engineer, Test Manager, and now her current role.
“It has been an amazing journey in terms of my work experience. The key to my success has been proper discipline and focusing on specific goals for the desired outcome. In addition, we have a collaborative and open working environment, which means that my colleagues’ continuous input and support are invaluable. You have to have people around you who can motivate you and tell you to ‘go for it’, especially managers. So, it keeps me motivated that I am on the right track and doing my job correctly,” Ntombela adds.
Skills transfer and mentorship are also important, in addition to constant motivation and self-discipline. She adds that, “If you do not want to learn, you are never going to learn. What is interesting about the engineering field and our company is that you learn something new every day. This means one looks forward to going to work, as it presents a constant challenge, which is very exciting and stimulating.”
A professional highlight for Ntombela has been to see students trained and absorbed successfully into employment in the industry. “It means I am on the right track if I am in the position to upskill employees. Once you have worked for our company, everyone wants to work with you,” says Ntombela. Being trained at Hitachi ABB Power Grids is sought after as a sign of success and upward mobility in terms of career development.
The challenge of being a woman in what is still largely a male-dominated industry is that women invariably have to work that much harder to establish their credibility, says Ntombela. “More opportunities need to be provided for women to become leaders. I believe that if you want to witness change, this is critical, especially as women are hungry to prove themselves and go that extra mile.”
She says that women stand to play a significant role in industry: “We can add a lot of value, especially as we are not ego-driven and are willing to learn and unafraid of doing our research and asking questions if need be. However, we can also do better in celebrating women’s achievements in the industry, particularly as it is such a hard road for so many women.”
Kellygrace Mathebula, Tendering and Quotation Engineer for the transformer business at Hitachi ABB Power Grids, concurs that transformation in the industry and the workplace is work in progress, especially in terms of employing, retaining and promoting more female engineers and empowering them.
“Women are not recognised and cele-brated enough. We definitely need to do more to promote gender diversity and equality.” However, Mathebula adds that she is part of “an amazing, supportive and smart team. There is so much to learn from them all, so I take it one day at a time so I can effectively boost my industry knowledge and experience.”
Mathebula started her journey with Hitachi ABB Power Grids as an engineer in training for two years, following which she was employed permanently. Her latest qualification is a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in Engineering,with her research focus on improving the energy storage capacity of electric vehicles.
She describes it as a very welcoming, relaxed working environment that promotes diversity and puts the health and safety of employees first. “It is a progressive company that has provided me with an opportunity to capitalise on my technical skills and capabilities. For the two years and a few months that I have been here, I have been afforded countless opportunities to continually learn and develop new skills utilizing both soft and technical training,” Mathebula says.
Four key workstreams underpin Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ Diversity 360: A new leader-ship model to bring diversity and inclusion to life through day-to-day leadership behav-iour; female acceleration in terms of setting ambitious gender diversity targets; emphasising the values of live diversity and inclusion; and to continue to attract and grow talent.