Debunking an ageing male-dominated construction industry

05 June 2014

The global construction industry has always been dominated men. However, times are changing in South Africa and PPC Ltd’s Zimkhitha Zatu believes that people will be surprised by how much the local industry has changed its view on female employees.

Zatu (30), a PPC executive manager in office of the Chief Financial Officer, believes that women who enter the construction industry must seek male counterparts willing to become mentors.

“You will be surprised by the number of male employees willing to mentor their female colleagues and help them be successful in this hard industry,” said Zatu.

Zatu feels that women’s belief that they must work harder than men to be noticed “is not necessarily a bad thing. It will help women throughout their careers and help them achieve great things, at home and at work.”

Having joined PPC two years ago, Zatu regards CFO Tryphosa Ramano as one of her greatest mentors.

“I have been lucky in my career to have had fantastic mentors who have been immensely supportive of me and my endeavours. I’ve had to work hard to have accomplished what I have and at PPC, Ramano has been instrumental in my taking that one step further in my abilities,” said Zatu.

Zatu matriculated in the Eastern Cape at Kingsridge High School for Girls, went on to receive her Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Accounting at Wits, followed by a Higher Diploma in Accounting, also at Wits.

Before joining PPC, she spent four years at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), where she discovered her passion for helping better the lives of people by financing infrastructure products.

“It was at IDC’s steel division that I realised that I wanted to be part of an organisation that was on the ground, looking to make a difference in the lives of the communities in which it operates. I regard PPC as leaders in the industry and their ethos to change the lives of people for the better was aligned to my vision,” Zatu said.

Zatu is adamant that in order for anyone, regardless of their gender, to be a success in their career you need a strong support base. “You even need support from your children. I have a daughter (7) and at her young age she understands why I have to go to work every morning and sometimes come home late,” she said.

On juggling family life and the fast-paced world of corporate, Zatu said that you have to put quality over quantity. “The trick is not to lose sight of the bigger picture and always remember why you are where you are,” said Zatu.

Her long-term goal is to become a business owner. “I would like to run my own business one day. I’m not yet sure what type of business yet, but it must have a strong foundation and be a catalyst for changing people’s lives for the better. However, I still enjoy my life here at PPC so this dream will only be many years down the line, and who knows, maybe PPC will be involved,” said Zatu.

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