Eswatini - Ubombo Sugar Limited
Hlelile is the first environment manager at Illovo’s operations in Eswatini – Ubombo Sugar Limited (Ubombo). Her main aim is to ensure sustainable sugar production that is empathetic to nature and to the livelihoods of the community; while contributing to the economic development of the local area.
Here she gives us an insight into her role and what makes her tick:
“My childhood dream was to become a doctor but as I grew up, I became more and more fascinated with the natural world and felt a desire to protect it. Being the first Environmental Manager at Ubombo is a proud achievement for me, as it allows me to use my natural instinct to take care of things while being an ambassador for nature.”
She credits her love of analytics and understanding things properly as a key driver for her role. After school she enrolled at the University of Eswatini and in 2005 completed a BSc degree in Biology and Chemistry; all the while realising the increasing need to protect the environment. She is now a student at the University Free State studying for her Masters in Environmental Management.
“I worked as an intern for an environmental consulting business in Mbabane during my studies and joined them full time after I qualified. It was during those days that I saw and understood how important sustainable development is. Working there really broadened my view as I worked on Environmental Impact Assessments for a whole lot of different projects. That is another reason I love this field of work, each day is different,” she said.
Since joining Ubombo and being the first to hold the role of Environment Manager, she comments: “The faith and trust Illovo has placed in me to consider the environment through each stage of our processing makes me extremely proud. They have entrusted some really important projects to me, and I take great detail and care in looking at how we can upgrade our systems to perform better for both the business, economically as well as environmentally.”
Looking back on her life, Hlelile speaks tenderly about her late mother who she says gave her the drive to get educated and be the best she could be. “My mother was illiterate. She went through a lot of hardship in her life but kept it all together. She showed me how to be strong. Without her I would not have finished school – she sacrificed a lot for us. My wish for my children is for a better world than the one I grew up in. I want to provide so they can be comfortable and I am now making sacrifices to ensure that becomes true for them,” she added.