As one of the longest standing employees at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, Dr Nthabiseng Mthethwa has worked her way up from her early days of joining the public sector as an advisor to a Deputy Director within the department. Nthabiseng is responsible for Resource Based Industries, which encompasses Agro processing, Mineral beneficiation and Aquaculture Inward Investments and Expansions in South Africa.
Who are you and what do you do at the 8 to 5 job and what led you to this career choice
Growing up, I have always envisioned myself as a healthcare worker – a nurse to be precise. I was always inspired by the nurses in our Community of Orlando West in Soweto. I remember how I would get captivated by their white neat uniform and the capes around their shoulders and how they always carried their suitcases when they go to work. It was a dream to me. However, as we grow up we get more inspired by different things that contribute immensely to our choices.
I am now a Deputy Director for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, with an aggregate of 30 years working experience in various departments. I have been in the Public Sector for 21 years. I started out as a Trade and Industry Advisor for 5 years, and I got a promotion to serve as an Assistant Director in the same department for 9 years, then in 2014 I was promoted to be Deputy Director. I’m responsible for Resource Based Industries, which encompasses Agro processing, Mineral beneficiation and Aquaculture Inward Investments and Expansions in South Africa. What led me to the Career choice was my knack to understand the globalisation and the current state of different economies around the world. Also, the analytical lens in interpreting and drawing the insights from global events and their ramifications in the global and local markets.
I have obtained a Diploma in Personnel & Training Management (Damelin Management School), Certificate in Human Resources Management (Rand Afrikaans University), Diploma in Community Based Management Prevention Management and Treatment of HIV/AIDS (Galille College ISRAEL),Advanced Management Development Program (AMPD) at the University of Pretoria passed with Distinction, Certificate in Economic Development and Development Policy (P & DM) WITS Business School, Graduate School of Public and Management School, Certificate in Investment Promotion and Facilitation (Malaysian Investment Development Agency – MIDA and Ireland Development Agency, Master Class Certificate in Business Management and Leadership from London Graduate School and Doctor of Business Administration, Specialising in Globalisation ,Trade and Industry (Honoris Causa) Commonwealth University.
I have a good record of accomplishment in the Management of Strategy Policy driven programs and possesses vast experience and understanding of Government Foreign Policy programmes and initiatives – currently appointed by Dr Rob Davies (Minister of Trade and Industry) to serve as a Board Member for the incentive scheme. I was awarded Best Performance Award for HIV/AIDS Departmental Committee member in 2004. Elected as a Chair for The African National Congress Women’s League in 2011 – 2013. Awarded The Phenomenal Women of the Year Award in 2004 by Deputy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks at the Department Of Trade and Industry category ‘’Batho Pele”.
Without a doubt, my achievements so far, surpasses my childhood dreams.
Tell me about your upbringing, dreams & aspirations, educational and heritage.
I am the eldest sibling of six. Growing up, I would watch my parents as they would stop at nothing to provide for us. My parents were strict and uncompromising on the aspect of our wellbeing and academic performance. I grew up in a big family with my cousins. I was raised by my Grandmother the late Nomaphoyisa Letty Nkabinde who was a Domestic Worker for the Thompsons Family. She has instilled discipline, respect and taught us to love ourselves first irrespective of our circumstances. I grew up in a family that was always warm and full of love. We always went to Anglican Church on Sundays where I was a Sunday School Teacher and a part of the Youth Club.
What is your side hustle business and or forums you actively participate in?
I actively participate at the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (DTIC) Export Marketing Initiative Assistance’s Board Meeting where by we get appointed by The Minister to serve on the Board to adjudicate the applications for the scheme. I have served for two terms, which is six years.
I belong to the “Friends of Emadwaleni High School” in Orlando West, where I Matriculated 40 years ago. As former learners at the school, we normally go and motivate the students and also assist with registration for the Top 5 Students. This is a way of giving back. In so far as giving back and charitable works are concerned, I work with my daughter (an award winning Published Author) to run a Book club from our home twice a month. We do this to encourage children to read from an early age. We also adopt a home (orphanage) on a yearly basis to celebrate on our birthdays with the orphans.
How do you balance the two aspects of responsibility?
With a demanding work schedule I have, coupled with travelling, I have to admit that I had to find balance. I have been fortunate to have travelled to more that 45 countries around the world doing Investment Promotion for the SA Government and meeting new people every day while learning different cultures around the world. I can safely say I am the child of the universe. To me striking balance on my responsibilities start with being content of the key aspects of life: spiritual, health, family, financial relationship and emotional. Life is not perfect and we are a work in progress. We may never reach a state of balance, but the most important thing is to acknowledge this and make the best you can.
Final Thoughts and message of encouragement to anyone out there
It is very important to have a plan in life so you can have control over your life. If you create a plan it becomes easy for you to make choices. Work hard and leave a legacy for the coming generation. I believe in leaving a legacy on how we lived our lives. On that note, I be remembered as a person who was always able to send the elevator back and help others. Open up opportunities available to you to everyone, whether it’s locally or abroad.
To all the women, be comfortable in your own skin and be true to your convictions and value systems at all times, no matter what the cost. Stand firm and still, do not lose sight.