Name: Dineo Ramakgahlele Phaladi
Age: 28
Position: Appointed as Anglo-American’s Kolomela Mine Overseer but currently Production Section Manager

It was Isidingo, a South African soapie staple, that piqued Dineo Phaladi’s interest in mining and since the days of watching the soapie, she has gone on to be a rising star in the mining sector. Phaladi is a successful mine overseer at Anglo-American’s Kolomela Mine, and currently production section manager.

As a young child in the early 90s, before discovering the show, I was never inclined to work in the mines. It was deemed a man’s job and extremely risky work. Nevertheless, the thrill of the storyline ignited interest in me. My father, seeing my Maths and Science marks, persuaded me to study mining at university,” said Phaladi.

Through her family’s support of her education in mining and engineering, Phaladi enrolled in the University of Johannesburg, studying towards a degree in mining engineering. Her first contact with mines came through the tours the university facilitated, and in 2010, a year after she enrolled at UJ, she started her practical training through Murray & Roberts. From there, Phaladi undertook her internship at Lonmin’s Marikana Mine, and once her internship was over, she returned to complete her studies and secured a bursary from Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore. Her journey with the multi-million company started through the bursary, which offered her vocational training and further exposure in the mining field.

Since then, she has obtained a higher certificate in economics, postgraduate diploma in business administration and is currently studying towards an MBA. Besides these qualifications, Phaladi has a wealth of on-the-ground experience through her work as the first female mining overseer of Kolomela Mines.

To be entrusted to make the day-to-day decisions, for a company that aims to be the most valuable company in five years, is quite a big deal for me.

Kolomela Mine is a multi-million business. In 2018, it was Anglo American’s safest mine. Safety and efficiency are our core priority to continuously deliver value. To be entrusted to make the day-to-day decisions, for a company that aims to be the most valuable company in five years, is quite a big deal for me,” she said.

One of her family members, Malome Tallman, was a clerk at the Atcock Mines in eastern Limpopo, in the 1980s. Back then, the only thing I used to think of mines was it being synonymous with rock falls and how dangerous it was to work underground all day,” she said. Phaladi has always been aware that mining is an industry that is oftentimes dangerous, and her drive to increase the safety of mining for all stakeholders is one of her deeply held values.

“The safety of our people is paramount and as a mine manager, it needs to be embedded as a key value deep in you, more than anything,” she said.

Resilience is another value that has shaped her trajectory in the mining sector. As a young black woman in the mining sector, Phaladi has felt that, because of her gender, she was treated “with kid gloves”.

But, through excelling in her field to be named on Women in Mining’s 2018 global list of inspirational women in mining, proves that her journey has been instrumental in diversifying the industry and empowering others to follow in her footsteps.

Name: Sandra Sithole
Age: 37
Position: Director at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc.

With 12 years as a practising lawyer under her belt, Sandra Sithole is a seasoned professional, and one who deeply cares about mentoring young black lawyers in a tough field. Sithole, who is equity director at Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc., believes that everyone needs a champion – someone to look out for them, guide them and train them.

“Being a role model to young lawyers is important to me. I hope through seeing what I do, what I have achieved, and realising the magnitude of the endless possibilities before them, I can inspire young black lawyers, not only to join the profession but to remain and excel in it,” she said.

The scope and quality of Sithole’s work is self-evident, and through her gains in the legal field, others have benefitted too. Her career started after completing an LLB degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2006. Since qualifying as an attorney in 2009, she has been working with Norton Rose Fulbright as an associate in the insurance team. Once her articles were completed, she was promoted to director in 2012 and made equity director in 2013.

As a practicing lawyer, Sithole mainly defends medical malpractice cases, but her experience as a disputes and litigation lawyer, specialising in insurance law, means that she gets to grapple with a host of insurance-related claims such as general liabilities including professional and public liability, construction and engineering, property, and specialist risk liability insurance.

A case she’s currently working on looks to be a landmark case for Norton Rose Fulbright, the country – and even has global ramifications.

There’s the double-edged sword of being African and being female in a white male-dominated legal and insurance industry. But if you work hard and believe in yourself, these challenges are not insurmountable.

“By far [the most significant case] has to be Caster Semenya’s 2019 challenge to the IAAF’s Eligibility Regulations at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Whatever the outcome, it will be one of the world’s most important decisions for sports and for gender and racial equality,” she said.

Hard work and resilience are two interpersonal values that have guided Sithole to the position she holds today.
“There is no hard and fast rule about this but... a great work ethic with dedication and commitment to success has contributed significantly to my practice,” she said.

Adding to that, she explained how people like Donald Dinnie and Patrick Bracher were instrumental in the early days of her career. The mentoring process was particularly important for Sithole, as she faced structural challenges in her profession.

“There’s the double-edged sword of being African and being female in a white male-dominated legal and insurance industry. But if you work hard and believe in yourself, these challenges are not insurmountable,” she added.

Through her position as equity director, and a seat on Norton Rose Fulbright’s supervisory board, she has the power to shape policy that allows for, and actively encourages more diversity and inclusion in the legal sector.

“Although not without its challenges, I am glad that Norton Rose Fulbright continuously strives to get transformation right through encouraging dialogue for racial and cultural integration, and implementing programmes designed to mentor and empower young black professionals,” she concluded.