Celebrating women in Safety

Our national Women’s month is coming to an end and we are wrapping it up by zooming in on women who are committed to creating a safe work environment at New Age Engineering Solutions. Witness Rikhotso and Kgahlisho Makgwale both work in our Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) department and we are proud to have these industry specialists on our team. We spoke to each of them about their Safety journey at New Age.

Witness RikhotsoSHEQ Director

Witness’s role at New Age is to implement SHEQ policies and procedures, and ensure that all employees are complying with the legislated SHEQ rules and regulations. This is not an easy job, but she handles it with aplomb. She joined New Age in 2013 as a Site Safety Officer for the Sasol shutdown in Secunda and was soon appointed as an Acting Safety Manager. In 2022, Witness was appointed as New Age’s first female SHEQ Director and she has been adding value to the organization ever since. As a director, she is committed to encouraging women in the industry to grab opportunities and pursue careers in Safety.

1. What has been your biggest lesson as a woman in a male-dominated industry?

The biggest lesson for me as a woman in a male-dominated industry is that if you want to succeed, you need to show off your ability to bring results to the table. In my experience, it took tangible results for people to start taking me seriously. I quickly realized that others, both men and women, had already placed their limitations on me professionally. Looking back, the limitations helped shape me for the better and provided me with a few words of wisdom.

2. What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment was on 21 June 2016, when the company managed to achieve a five-star grade from a NOSA HSE compliance audit after several years of only maintaining a four-star rating. This was during a time when most people did not believe the SHEQ department would manage to achieve that result.

3. What message would you give to your younger self?

Be kinder to yourself and always know your worth. The world is bigger than you think it is and your worries aren’t as big as they might seem. Don’t worry if you look and feel different from most people. Just be yourself.

Witness Rikhotso

Kgahlisho Makgwale Assistant Safety Manager

Kgahlisho Makgwale is a Safety Assistant Manager at New Age. She started her career journey working as an Admin Clerk for New Age during the Sasol shutdown in Secunda, and over the years she gained an interest in Safety Management. Kgahlisho knew her administrative tasks like the back of her hand and was eager for a new challenge. After months of observing the safety team at New Age and asking them SHEQ-related questions, she enrolled for a Safety Management Training Course (SAMTRAC) and has worked her way up to become a Safety Assistant Manager.

1. What has been your biggest lesson as a woman in a male-dominated industry?

When you are working with men as a woman, you realize you have a bigger fish to catch. You need to build a harmonious relationship with your male colleagues, and I believe that’s when they begin to accept you as one of them. The more time I spend working with men within the company and industry at large, the quicker the respect for me has grown. The men acknowledge my profession. Chivalry is not dead. The men I encounter in this male-dominated industry respect me for who I am and what I have achieved. I have gradually stamped my authority by implementing my beliefs and making a noticeable difference in the SHEQ department and that has earned my fellow females and me the respect of our male counterparts more than any talking would have done.

2. What has been your proudest moment?

Being appointed as an Assistant Safety Manager in a short space of time has been my proudest moment. I feel proud when I reflect on my career journey and how I’ve built my career from the ground up. When I was told that I was being appointed as an Assistant Safety Manager, I couldn’t believe it but it was at that moment when I realized that hard work pays off.

3. What message would you give your younger self?

If you don’t know where you are going, then how will you get there? Draw a picture in your mind of where you want to go. See the destination and envision yourself arriving at that destination. Make a roadmap and study it every day until you have a clear picture of your journey and destination. 

Kgahlisho Makgwale

New Age Safety Team

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