Sezela, South Africa
Phindile started her career with Illovo Sugar South Africa (Illovo) 15 years ago as an in-service trainee. Since then she’s achieved an MBA, spent time in the UK at British Sugar sites, took three years outside of the business to widen her horizons and now works back at the Sezela plant as Production Manager.
Here she gives insight into the opportunities on her career journey, what she loves about her role as well as her ambitions for the future.
Phindile comments: “Within my current role, I am accountable for the entire sugar manufacturing process at Sezela, as well as ensuring that all safety processes are complied with and delivery is achieved against budget, time and quality within the site’s production plan. My role enables me to work with other operations efficiently as to have a successful plant, we all need to work together and to plan together. Any decisions that I make therefore have a wider impact on other departments which is important for me to bear in mind.
“I love working in this industry as it sparks something for me. There is a lot behind sugar in terms of the co-products and within the industry there are so many different career paths available. After joining Illovo as a trainee, I was offered a bursary to study a BTEC in Chemical Engineering, after which I was appointed Engineer in Training (EIT) at Noodsberg on a three-year programme. I was then given the opportunity to travel to the UK to visit some of the British Sugar factories and learn from the teams there. It was a huge learning curve for me, not only professionally but also personally too. I learnt a lot about continuous improvement and the types of processes, plans and structures that the teams had in place; but I was also able to share my learnings from our African operations with the team. The experience gave me a new perspective and a new way of looking at things, which I brought back to Illovo with me.”
My future aspirations
“The sky is the limit for me, at least that’s what Illovo has instilled in me! Starting out as a trainee, I only knew about engineering but since joining the company I have learnt about the many different careers directions I could take. Part of doing my MBA was to expand my knowledge and to understand what else is out there. Having that knowledge, I am able to contribute to the different aspects of Illovo, and to communicate across the different levels within the business and wider business networks. I really enjoy that I can contribute and add value, whilst learning from the different people I engage with every day.”
To find out more about Illovo Sugar Africa, please visit their website.