SANELISIWE MNGADI: Accountant – Commercial Development at Smiths Manufacturing

#AutomotiveAllies: Sanelisiwe, nominated by Paul Vermaak, is an accountant responsible for commercial development at Smiths Manufacturing.

Sanelisiwe was born in Amahlongwa, on the South Coast of KZN and raised in George, Western Cape. Following the completion of a BCom accounting degree at NMU, Sanelisiwe began her career in the banking sector as a Credit analyst at Absa Retail Business Banking.  With the support of her manger, Sanelisiwe completed her CTA and subsequently left the banking sector to join Mercedes-Benz South Africa where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant.  The following year Sanelisiwe joined Smiths Manufacturing and has been with the company since 2018, working as an accountant responsible for commercial development.

It was at her job at Absa where Sanelisiwe first experienced being led by a strong female within a male dominated work environment. Through both observation and practice, Sanelisiwe quickly learnt that leadership is not title based but driven by intentional behaviour. Additionally, this experience allowed her to begin to develop a leadership style that did not simply mimic a masculine leadership style. Sanelisiwe has since encountered remarkable women in the industry who have a passion for making a positive and inclusive change within the industry.

Sanelisiwe was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where her parents and siblings exposed her to the realities of life from an early age. This allowed her to realise the possibilities of being a person with a positive presence in the world through hard work, persistence and remaining humble. This upbringing helped develop Sanelisiwe’s passion for learning, creating and transformational leadership, stating “I truly enjoy engaging with people from various backgrounds and all walks of life as it allows me to build, learn and unlearn all within the journey of becoming me”.

Sanelisiwe is currently studying her Master’s in philosophy of Development finance at the University of Stellenbosch business school. The course has helped her understand and unearth the prospects of development in Africa and the importance of being passionate about change.

Sanelisiwe’s considerations on #ThingsIWishIKnew and empowering women in the industry:

#ThingsIWishIKnew: The manufacturing industry is an endless well of opportunities that support career growth and generate self-development. It often provides challenges that highlight the importance of being deeply rooted in who you are and your purpose. There are many lessons to be learnt, in everything that you do and in all experiences and encounters with people, so always be open to learning – don’t just think outside the box but move it all together. There are challenges (yes of course), however great rewards arise when pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so don’t be fearful of the unknown and what may at a point in time be unfamiliar ground, never doubt yourself and always back yourself.

#TheFutureisFemale: The automotive space, like most, is an extremely competitive environment that may at times prove to be challenging with various barriers such as gender-diversity, therefor I cannot stress enough the importance of working together and supporting each other as women. Many hurdles can be overcome with continuous constructive, stimulating and positive engagements.  Let’s continue to challenge, applaud and learn from each other whilst realising that there are plenty of seats for each one of us at the table. Our individual paths are determined by our ability to realise our unique contributions to the table, so stay focused and always trust your gut. The journey is even sweeter when you realize that you’re not walking alone but in a sea of women (and men) ahead, behind and next to you.