Sibulele Dlova, 41, has confronted gender bias in the male-dominated fields of electrical engineering and energy, where she has advocated for equality and inspired others to challenge gender norms.
As chief executive of SGB-Smit Power Matla, Sibulele is leading the company into sustainable profitability and operational excellence by exploring increasing its customer base in the energy sector.
SSPM is the largest Transmission manufacturing company on the continent and turning around this company has definetly been amongst her toughest challenges.
Her leadership has built the organisation into the largest transformer manufacturing company in Africa, and she rates this as the pinnacle of her achievements. She fosters a culture of innovation, collaboration and empowerment at the company.
During her tenure as Africa unit leader at Aurecon, Sibulele mentored and supervised a diverse team of engineers, successfully executing projects across Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
As general manager of Eskom Distribution, she reduced non-technical losses and facilitated grid connections for independent power producers.
Beyond her work environment, Sibulele contributes to driving change. Her advisory roles on boards such as Lekela Power and Empower a Thousand Investments show her commitment.
Through her mentorship at African Women in Energy and Power, a nonprofit established to accelerate African women entrepreneurs’ participation in the power and energy sector, she helps women with their professional development.
Sibulele believes that we should follow our passion, and that when the going gets tough, the love of what we do is the fuel that gets us to the finish line.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Do not let people invalidate your feelings. If you’re going crazy for feeling the way you do, understand these feelings, what triggers them and learn to manage them. This will help you think through all situations, as you realise that there are always multiple versions of a story, which will help you to make informed decisions.
Our theme this year is Accelerating Equality & Empowerment in Women. How do you empower yourself and women around you?
I empower myself by investing in understanding and accepting myself. This enables the women around me to be their authentic selves and in turn have enriching experiences and conversations that do not invalidate their views. We each have unique contributions to make, and providing a platform where women can speak their truths is important.
If you could change or achieve one thing for South Africa today, what would it be?
We live in a beautiful country that is grappling with numerous issues simultaneously. It is clear that one solution is industrialisation. Support needs to be provided to the manufacturing sector to enable us to grow the economy. Economic growth will provide access to resources, which will increase the number of people participating in opportunities. Growing the economy will enable us to instil a sense of purpose in our people, particularly the youth.