• Lindi Engelbrecht

Boniswa Dladla, talks about empowering individuals to shift how they think in order to show up more

Editor’s note: @winatwork4.0 features no-holds-barred in-depth interviews with female leaders in industries to give you insight into how they have harnessed the power of purpose, and how they are empowering others by being a voice and a role model. Their stories provide inspiration and valuable insight for us all.

Women can achieve anything they put their mind to – if they are true to themselves.

Boniswa Dladla, a dynamic Female Coach with a 10 year career in the mining environment having previously worked for Anglo American (Thermal coal) as well as De Beers Group of Companies as a processing engineer and production specialist. She is an operations and technical specialist having led a production team to achieve results in a highly dynamic and output driven mining environment. Through this interaction, her desire to explore what makes individuals connect and achieve results started and she pursued professional transformation coaching training.

She is an avid empowerment and transformation coach & speaker having spoken in business empowerment conferences, such as the women in mining, career and leadership conference at the University of Johannesburg and has hosted business workshops as a host and coordinator to empower women. She believes in empowering individuals to shift how they think in order to show up more intentionally and achieve desired results. She #winatwork by lifting and empowering others.

Tell me about yourself

I grew up in KZN kwaMaphumulo (rural areas), I deem this to be one of the best seasons of my life with freedom to be free and play care-free as a child, a treasured gift always. I grew up amongst many cousins having my maternal grandmother as the main care giver while my mother and aunt left to go work in different parts of KZN. I went to Noodsberg Primary school and Masibubambe High school in Northern KZN. I had a desire to explore life outside of my home province, and went on to pursue metallurgical engineering studies at the University of Pretoria. The first 3 months were so tough, due to not knowing anybody, I cried for days with loneliness till I made a decision to embrace change and make new friendships. Some of those friendships are still close 15 years later.

Who’s your role model ? Why ?

I love Oprah, her gift to teach others as she evolves and her ability to transform herself and others truly inspires me. I love to enable others to evolve in their consciousness, so Oprah’s work has led me to some of the most amazing reads such as the “The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav”

What is your one liner ? What’s your inspirational quote that describes you ?

“I have the power to create my own reality”. This has changed my life to being the most joyful adventurous life experience. Taking ownership of my mental space and what I feel. Coaching other individuals to do that for themselves and see their face light up is so fulfilling.

“I have the power to create my own reality”. This has changed my life to being the most joyful adventurous life experience.

Why mining? What attracted you to the industry?

Funny story, the first time I became acquainted with “ Metallurgical Engineering was when a group, recruiting bursary students came to our school in 2002. I looked at the title and thought "I have never seen this before, it looks challenging enough, that’s what I want to do". That was the mind of a 17 year old who knew she wanted to do something meaningful and challenging. The Engineering field also offered many opportunities for different avenues in my career. Motivated by a prospect of a fully funded university experience, engineering became my 1st choice. I was glad I chose processing engineering as going underground was an adventure on its own.

What excites you about the Industry ?

I loved contributing to the beneficiation of minerals, and understanding the processes. I enjoyed seeing the diversity that existed in mining, also seeing more women starting to enter the technical fields. It's no secret mining is a tough environment, however the organisations I worked for truly had amazing policies to protect and develop women in mining.

What does the future of the mining industry look like in South Africa, in your view?

With optimisation of mining and beneficiation processes, there are more opportunities for smaller mining companies entering the field to equally partake. The current mining chatter seeks to encourage such participation through its guidelines. The onus is on each player in the industry to uphold their corporate responsibility. Looking forward to the impact of 4IR to level the playing field, allowing all individuals regardless of gender to have equal opportunities.

In your opinion what skills will be required in the future mining environment?

Problem solving skills, ability to make quick ethical decisions, communication skills to bring diverse views to the table and brand ambassadorship with local communities.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your career in mining?

A plant team led by mostly female engineers. It felt great to be part of excellence in women development in mining. Even greater to realise just how talented and determined women can be in achieving amazing results together.

What sources or resources do you use to improve yourself and help you excell e.g. Mentor/coaching (external/internal)/formal training/reading books/a manager or colleague?

I have a host of coaches that help me develop in specific areas I have identified and wish to develop in. I also read a lot and use youtube to self-teach and reflect on any topic of interest. I believe the era we are in is one of amazing information access however without clear direction one can be overwhelmed.

Which of the above do you think is most important and has had most impact on your development?

Coaching is what has accelerated my growth journey. Passion fuelled my purpose for coaching. I followed my heart and invested in being a certified coach, and I now serve others to unleash their human potential through coaching and truly design life experiences they can enjoy and are proud of.

What was a unique female challenge you faced in the mining industry and how did you overcome it?

Realising my lack in physical strength with certain tasks especially in the early years of training. I would look for ways to be supportive to the team of men while doing the best I can with what my strength can do. I quickly realised that each member in a team has a unique strength, once others are open to leverage each other’s strength everyone can contribute and be valuable to their team members.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced up until this point in your career (in general)?

I had to learn the ability to adapt to new cities as I moved because of new work opportunities. Traveling with my sons meant the search for new schools, adjusting to new teachers and school culture for my sons, which posed different challenges. My younger son ended up doing a third language as his first language, this of course impacted me as a parent as I needed to double up on homework, support and also learn new subject matter. This taught me resilience, and strengthened my son with a deep rooted awareness of how capable he was.

If you could go back and teach your younger self-something, what would that be?

I would tell her : Have fun, it all works out and is orchestrated to your evolution.

What message/advise would you give young woman entering the industry or interested in a career in resources industries?

They are capable, their emotional intelligence is a skill in any field of work. They need to trust their abilities and get coaching help to develop their leadership skills before entering leadership roles. Craft a career they will be proud of through following inner awareness about what is next for them

What advise can you give for young woman to up-skill themselves?

Each season of your life requires a better version of yourself. Always advance your skill set as you evolve and grow your inner qualities that carve the way to the authentic connections you make. Focus on those early on. Having an unshakable sense of self worth.