Khutjo Ivy Lebelo is a mining professional who aims to drive positive change in the mining industry. The 35-year-old became the first woman mine manager at Samancor Chrome, Western Chrome Mines, in 2019.
She is now a senior mining engineer at De Beers’ Venetia diamond mine. Khutjo also serves as the deputy lead for trade and implementation for Women in Mining Business (WIMBiz), where she contributes to initiatives to provide women with the tools, resources and support they need to succeed in the industry.
She has a background in operations management, mining organisational systems formulation and execution across various commodities (such as platinum, chrome, and diamonds) for more than 14 years.
She completed her MBA at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in 2022. Her understanding of business strategy brings a different perspective to the table.
Khutjo was recognised in 2022 as a United Nations Global Compact Young SDG Innovator, which aims to empower young talent in their organisations to collaborate and accelerate business innovation towards the sustainable development goals.
Khutjo says her most valuable lesson was that there’s no such thing as useless experience. Her greatest achievement was having led mining teams in different mining methods and commodities, which taught her the art of establishing robust relationships across different levels of work.
“At the heart of the business is the human, at the heart of greatness is personal humility and professional will,” says Khutjo.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Confront the brutal facts yet never lose faith. One can never make good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
I empower myself through continuous learning. “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and only cease at death,” according to Albert Einstein. I always strive to create a culture of belonging, especially in the mining industry where women can easily feel like misfits. Our ability to flourish relies on the diverse contributions of everyone, both women and men.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
I would ensure access to quality education for all South Africans. An educated nation can drive innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity, which are essential for economic development. This will help us reduce poverty.