“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle

Luyanda Mthethwa


Mining & Manufacturing

Organisation / Company



Luyanda Mthethwa, 28, develops and implements strategies for organisations that minimise their environmental impact and their ability to adapt to climate change. She’s excited that there is a growing expectation for companies to be more transparent about their practices, and that consumers and regulatory bodies are increasingly holding them more accountable. She used to work for a mining company, where she learned many valuable lessons before she left and joined PwC. The job involved a lot of travel and long hours, and Luyanda realised she had to live a healthier life to cope with her work commitments. Because the mining industry is traditionally male-dominated, she struggled initially with feelings of incompetence. To thrive in the workplace, she had to be true to herself, and show up as her full self. She threw herself into a project that created 3 000 pairs of school shoes from worn-out mining gumboots, which not only saved the mining company money but also benefited people and the environment. The project, which is still going, involved several partnerships, which taught Luyanda that collaboration produces the best long-term results — and that one man’s waste can become another’s treasure.


Bsc (Geology and Environmental Management)
Bsc Honours (Environmental Science)
Masters in Energy Leadership, and a Postgraduate in Property Development (current)


One of my biggest achievements has to be donating around 3 000 pairs of school shoes in the space of two years from the recycling of old gumboots. The project entailed collecting old PPE gumboots that were previously disposed of, recycling them and making the soles of school shoes.
I was previously employed by a mining company, and as a way to reduce waste disposed of at the mine, I looked at different waste streams that could save the company money and leave a positive impact on the community. Gumboots are worn as personal protection equipment by mine employees; when they are worn out, they are not suitable for use.
However, the plastic can often be used to generate something else. I partnered with a pyrolysis company that breaks down the gumboots to make the soles of school shoes. I also partnered with the Bathu sneaker company, which donated a pair of Bathu school shoes for every two shoes donated. The project aims to donate 22 000 pairs of school shoes to local mining communities.
The project included other waste streams to be recycled, such as paper, boxes, old oil and wooden pallets. Rebates from the recyclables are being used to buy school shoes. The success of the project depends on several key partnerships. From this, I learnt that collaboration often yields greater results than individual efforts. Furthermore, from an environmental perspective, it held true that “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure”.


I have had the opportunity of having several mentors in my life, both formally and informally. Mentorship has helped me navigate through several uncertainties, both in my career and personal life. My mentors not only guide me but also provide coaching that enables me to generate a number of solutions for the possible problems I might be having. They have often given me different perspectives and the ability to look at matters holistically. Having mentors has always felt like having people in my corner, cheering me on, while simultaneously giving me much-needed criticism. The fact that they also have a web of network connections I can leverage on is a bonus. Mentorship reminds me of the African Proverb, “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go with people”.