During women’s month, Mitsubishi Motors South Africa celebrated the many women that form part of their critical staff compliment. A key strategy within the Mitsubishi Motors South Africa business is their commitment to empowering and elevating women within their organisation

“At Mitsubishi Motors South Africa we pride ourselves in the fact that we continuously create a working environment that fosters inclusivity and allows people of all genders, and from all walks of life an equal opportunity to follow a successful career in the automotive industry,” says Thato Magasa, Managing Director of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA).

Within the larger Mitsubishi Motors South Africa organisation women fulfil a variety of roles with great success, many of which were reserved for men in the past.

“Mitsubishi’s staff compliment includes a large number of woman who fulfil a variety of roles across the company. Through these testimonials we hope that we can inspire other women to pursue a career in the automotive industry,” adds Magasa.

Felicia Sono – Customer care manager

Customer care manager Felicia Sono has vast experience in customer service and training in the automotive industry that spans 16 years.

“In my current role I support and mentor the customer care team, which includes training and mentoring staff to enhance productivity. We really need to support the younger generation in achieving their goals,” says Sono.

“Working in a male dominated industry I have seen that certain male customers tend to believe that women don’t know much about the motor industry and can be very reluctant to accept the feedback that you give back to them. They will prefer to speak to a male co-worker, who gives them the same feedback which is then accepted as the truth. I expect to be treated with respect and fairness just like anyone else in the organisation,” explains Sono.

Thabiso Ramatla – Distribution manager

Distribution manager Thabiso Ramatla now has more than 10 years’ experience in the automotive industry. She started out as a graduate and worked her way through the ranks to her current position as distribution manager where she is responsible for inbound and outbound logistics.

“I love working for Mitsubishi because the company allows me to grow, I work with people who are courageous and who are helping me to grow, who are very passionate about the brand and who are always looking forward,” says Ramatla.

“Working in a male dominated industry has been a beautiful journey because the men that I have worked with have pushed me to do my best, they are passionate and help me to improve my skills. This has helped me become more confident in making decisions and delivering on behalf of the brand,” says Ramatla.

Ramatla believes that women are hard workers with integrity who bring unique solutions to the industry, and they make good choices by knowing what to do and when to do it. 

“Women are coming on board with skills that allow institutions to be successful and are being recognised based on those skills and the power they carry as women,” concludes Ramatla.

Carmen van Wyk – Financial Director

Financial Director Carmen van Wyk believes that anything is possible, but that the numbers never lie.

“I love life and all its beautiful things, I think it’s important to have a critical understanding of the numbers and their impact on the organisation,” says van Wyk.

“I like working at Mitsubishi as it allows me to grow. I work for a small, fairly young team who are agile and forward thinking. In a smaller organisation like this there is less bureaucracy, and we can make decisions quickly,” adds van Wyk.

“What matters most to me is how you show up and land on a daily basis. I want to be a positive influence, an instrument of change and I believe that I have a sharp eye for identifying and developing talent. I believe in people and in people being treated fairly. When given the platform those people will grow and excel,” says van Wyk.

Van Wyk believes that women should remain feminine and authentic, especially in an industry that is very muscular and outdoorsy. For automotive companies looking to attract a different demographic the feminine influence is very important.

Dalene Bekker – General Manager, Parts

General manager of parts, Dalene Bekker explains that mentorship and support are crucial for women in male dominated industries. “During my 34-year career I sought out the specialists in various areas and learnt from them by shadowing them and learning from the way they do things. Engage with stakeholders, do your research and develop your processes in that way,” says Bekker.

“Women tend to be more analytical, pay more attention to detail, ask more questions and get to the bottom of issues, which makes it easier to establish new processes. These unique strengths and skills that women bring to the parts and distribution industry can be harnessed for greater success,” adds Bekker.

Lebogang Maepa – Warehouse administrator

Warehouse administrator Lebogang Maepa always wanted to be the lady that breaks barriers and changes the whole concept of male domination. This was possible thanks to her passion and determination to learn new things, which has been key to her success to date.

“Women looking to enter the industry shouldn’t be afraid to put themselves out there as women, open their mind and learn everything they can. Be like a sponge and learn as much as possible from the people around you. Go above and beyond and you will get wherever you want to be,” says Maepa.

Mathabo Mapea – Management accountant

Management accountant Mathabo Mapea believes that it is important to foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork among employees, regardless of gender in order to achieve the organisations goals.

“We need to encourage a culture and an environment that is supportive and safe for all employees. We need to create an environment where we know we can express ourselves and our opinions without fear or favour. We are all part of one team, so it is important to create an environment where we are all equal and where we all feel safe and comfortable to do our job and take risks, when necessary,” says Mapea.

“As women we need to come together, encourage one another and form initiatives where we can guide and support each other on how to advance in this industry,” says Mapea.

“Women wanting to pursue a career in the automotive industry should choose a field within the industry that they want to follow and pursue that field with an end goal in mind. They should then do everything in their power including making sure that they continually educate themselves on their path to becoming experts in that chosen field,” adds Mapea.

“During my career in the automotive industry I have learnt that if you pursue and persist you will be able to reach your goals. As women we need to realise that we have the ability to make a positive contribution to this industry, through our innovative and creative ideas,” concludes Mapea.

Melissa Lombard – Admin Manager

Admin Manager Melissa Lombard believes that gender diversity has many benefits that relate to the company’s bottom line. “By embracing gender diversity companies can foster a more innovative and productive work environment. Having both males and females in your team means you benefit by having different points of view and approaches from different life experiences,” says Lombard.

Lombard notes her biggest career achievement to date as when she completed her BBA at the same time as caring for a new-born baby. “Having to complete assignments, study and write exams while on maternity leave is a big achievement in my opinion. That just goes to show how strong and amazing women really are, if we put our minds to it, no matter how tough or challenging, we can accomplish anything,” adds Lombard.

Molly Prakesh – Parts Distribution Manager, Motus

Molly Prakash is the Manager of the Parts Distribution Centre for Motus emerging brands and for her the journey of breaking barriers and entering the parts distribution industry, which is traditionally male dominated, has been fruitful.

“18 years ago I started out in a very male dominated industry but over the years we have seen change. Women are now valued and recognised for their contribution. My focus has always been to do the job. Don’t get distracted by gender or any other form of discrimination,” explains Prakash.

“My belief is that finance is there to support the business in achieving its targets and goals, this motivated me to learn and understand all aspects of business. When I was offered my current position in the parts distribution centre, I saw it as an opportunity to further my career,” says Prakash. “A change from finance to operations made me realise that I actually enjoyed operations because of its challenges. I love working with the team to try and find solutions in pursuit of achieving daily, monthly and annual targets. I love implementing processes and controls to ensure increased productivity and efficiency,”