Sal Govender VP of Bureau Veritas Southern Africa
This Women’s Month Bureau Veritas wants to honour all the incredible women who make the company a global leader in testing, inspection and certification.
The company has, in recent months, under the direction of renowned leader Sal Govender, increased their female leadership gender dynamic considerably. Commenting during Women’s Month in South Africa, VP of Bureau Veritas Southern Africa , Govender says: ‘Increasing the numbers of women in female leadership roles has been high on the Bureau Veritas agenda globally; and in southern Africa, we are taking great strides to allow more women to show their mettle both inside and out of the boardroom. We now have an engaging team of men and women on our executive that compliment each other beautifully, ensuring our company is run like a well-oiled machine! Everyone brings their uniqueness to the table, thereby super-powering the outcome.’ Women from various professional backgrounds, ethnicities and countries add intelligence and relevance to the engineering and scientifically driven testing, inspections and certification powerhouse. Govender herself was voted by Elle magazine in 2015 as one of South Africa’s top women to work for and is a strong advocate of community building through education and social upliftment initiatives.
Set the goals high
Joanne Barton is the managing director of M&L Labs and has been with Bureau Veritas and M&L Labs for 18 years. A chemist by profession, Barton advises that technical people are often not sociable networkers and need courage to get ‘out there’. With an engaging sense of humour, she believes in setting the goals high and manages to keep the work/life balance despite being on call most of the time. The secret, she believes, lies in being passionate about her job. Her advice to other women who have ambitions to achieve a leadership role: Make sure you are always true to yourself, honest in your role and be clear about your goals, never let anyone make you do what you gut says is wrong – be bold and say ‘no’. Self-respect is of utmost importance.
Get a mentor
Neda Taghadosi, an electronics engineer with an MBA, has recently been promoted to Industry and Certification director and has been with the company for six years. She is a strong supporter of keeping employees motivated and ensuring the correct people are recruited for their respective roles. In the build-up to Women’s Month, an enthusiastic Taghadosi comments, ‘We are indeed in very exciting times and it’s encouraging to see the gender balance in the company.’ Her advice to other women who have ambitions to achieve a leadership role: Always thank your employees for going the extra mile, care about them because you cannot be successful without their support. Get a mentor, you can learn so much from them… and don’t ever feel embarrassed to apologise for a mistake made.
Grace Mabasa has been with Bureau Veritas for 16 years and is the company’s Government Services and International Trade manager. Mabasa manages and plans the operational and commercial activities pertaining to Government contracts. As a leader, she believes that encouraging diverse teams to work together motivates them to recognise the strengths of their combined talents which in turn enhances the success of the organisation.
Time management and setting of priorities help her maintain an effective work/life balance. Her advice to other women who have ambitions to achieve a leadership role: Work hard, strive for what you believe in and don’t give up on your dreams. Leave a legacy for tomorrow as you are writing it daily.
Open communication channels
Emilie Bigot is the financial director of Bureau Veritas Southern Africa and enjoys a staff component of some 30 employees. Bigot is fully responsible for Finance and Purchasing for the company. Her biggest challenge is to ensure open communication channels between the various employees across the countries within her leadership ambit. She too has seen an increase in women in leadership roles since she joined the organisation five years ago. Her mid-management team are all women, of which she is proud. Her advice to other women who have ambitions to achieve a leadership role: ‘Hard work is always rewarded so believe in yourself. Too many women lack self-confidence but have excellent skills, so I encourage you, make it happen.’
Collaborate and engage
Beatrice Scharneck is the District Human Resources Manager for Bureau Veritas Southern Africa and has been with the company for 10 years. Her goal is to ensure employees are inspired, collaborative and engaged; thereby ensuring the company’s sustained future. Scharneck is an avid supporter of communities and corporate societal marketing. She manages to strike a balance between work and family by remembering that family is of utmost importance whilst still enjoying a fulfilling and rewarding career (and having fun in both). Her advice to other women who have ambitions to achieve a leadership role: Nothing is impossible, believe in yourself, take the bull by the horns and go for it! Keep your eye on the ball and remain focussed on your dream; then strive to make it a reality.
The executive leadership team of the company now enjoys a healthy gender and demographic balance which has made a positive impact on the company culture and employee morale. The company has recently completed a month-long corporate societal campaign embracing community building and giving back to those less fortunate. Mandela Day on 18th July formed an integral part of the weekly community activities around the country, paying homage to President Nelson Madiba for his inspiration and encouragement to make a difference. In 2020 the campaign will be rolled out into various African countries to further cement the culture of making a difference.
In June 2019, under Govender’s leadership, the company launched the Ithemba Trust, a women’s empowerment body involved in projects benefiting girls and young women in South Africa. Aligned to the Bureau Veritas Southern Africa’s strong social awareness ethos, the Trust focuses on empowering females from previously disadvantaged backgrounds with a focus on education of young Black Women in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. After graduation, the company will absorb the young ladies into the business and upskill them with soft skills on work readiness. Enterprise development assistance will be provided to those that wish to launch their own businesses and work will be subcontracted to them to ensure they can sustain their businesses and achieve success. The Trust focusses on beneficiaries hailing from areas in which Bureau Veritas South Africa employees live and work. To date the trust has provided two full bursaries for students Keletso Moekona and Sanelisiwe Mabaso to study a BEng Mining at the University of Johannesburg and BSC Biological Sciences at Wits University respectively.
Bureau Veritas is an avid supporter of promoting women in the workplace that will add value and gravitas to the brand and its success. Building communities and creating a sustainable future remain high on the company’s priority list. Passionate about people and improving the lives of others, Govender concludes: ‘We are dedicated to creating legacies and ultimately building a nation. We are poised to improve the lives of women; the backbone of society and thereby bringing a steady balance to communities and workplaces.’