Raksha Naidoo, 42, chief executive of The Particle Group and chairperson of Women in Mining South Africa (WiMSA), is dedicated to advancing women in the mining industry.
Raksha’s work at WiMSA, coupled with her commitment to empowering women; promoting science, technology, engineering and maths education and mentorship sets her apart.
This, and her science background — she has a BSc in pure and applied chemistry — has positioned her as a powerful advocate for breaking gender barriers in traditionally male-dominated industries.
As chief executive of The Particle Group, Raksha supports small businesses and women-owned projects. She is a trusted voice in the mining sector and was selected as a speaker at the Mining Indaba in 2023.
Raksha addresses critical industry topics, igniting conversations about gender equality and violence prevention. She extends this same focus and charisma when talking to young people in mining communities, nurturing a new generation of leaders.
She was recognised as one of the top 100 inspiring women in mining last year. Raksha has been instrumental in providing funding for the Women in Mining mentorship programme which supports young women.
“Failure is to me one of life’s greatest lessons, and the day I embraced failure and her teachings, I grew into a stronger leader. From that, one of the most valuable lessons I carry with me is that the unknown is not as scary as we make it out to be, if you just believe in yourself and all that you are capable of,” she says.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
The best advice that I have been given is that everything in life is a choice and the choices we make determine everything.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
I empower myself by carving my own path and being self-reliant. The road to leadership was filled with many hurdles and sometimes very lonely paths. So, becoming independent, becoming wiser, stronger and braver, allowed me to find my own voice to stand up against biases and challenges, not just for myself, but for all the women around me. And that is something I try to teach other women as well — that they have the strength and capabilities to rise above and be better for themselves or be whatever it is that they choose to be! Empowerment, for me, is all about living the example and actively being a role model for change. I struggled at times to find mentors who looked like me or sounded like me, so I worked hard at becoming the mentor that I needed.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
Aside from the many obvious things that are at the forefront of all South Africans’ minds, if I could achieve anything, I would eliminate period poverty in South Africa and ensure that no young girl has to hinder her education as a result of it. This is something that is a huge passion project of mine.