Adel Malebana

Believe in yourself, don't be scared to try new things. If something does not work out, you can try something else. Rather live with the reality that something did not work out, than the regret that it could have worked out, and you will never know. So, take chances, do your best, take criticism, make changes and grow.

Country of origin

South Africa

Which company do you work for?

Sehunoza Social Consulting Services (Pty) Ltd

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Stakeholder Engagement, Resettlement and Social Consultant

How long have you been in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields?

20 years

As a woman in a male dominated industry, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

I have been very fortunate to meet and work for someone (whom I still call a mentor to this day), who trusted me enough to throw me into the deep end, where I had to practically learn  on the job, with him managing from a distance. Over the years, I have also been very careful not to blow my own horn, but to give people around me an opportunity to discover what I have to offer. Sometimes this does not work very well especially in environments that are highly competitive, but in hindsight, I believe it is a strategy that has worked for me, and that I will continue to uphold.

What inspired you to join this industry?

Honestly, it has really been by default. I started off as a teacher, wanting to change the world at a very early age, but realised six years down the line that it wasn’t going to work out. So, I had to resign and look for something else to do. Secondly, since I was never really good at Maths, I doubted if I could do anything without Matric Mathematics. Needless to say, when I left teaching and registered for a MSc in Development Planning at Wits University, I did not know how it was going to pan out, but I did anyway. As part of the course, I had to enrol for a Maths bridging course, which surprisingly, I did very well in. When it came to choosing research topics, I went for a relocation case study for one of the mines in South Africa, and the rest, as they say, is history.

What changes, if any, have you seen in your field with regards to women in your field?

I am starting to see women given an opportunity at the workplace to engage with men, where in the past it was not heard of. I have also seen over the years that men, especially in rural communities are also staring to warm up towards women on engagement platforms and giving them the respect that is required.

How can we attract more women to consider a career in the STEM fields?

Trusting women to be as good as their male counterparts in some instances. Where a decision has to be made between appointing male or female, let the best person win, despite their gender. Let the experience and qualifications speak

If you were to advise other young women starting their careers in the tech or within the STEM fields, what is the one thing you would say to them?

Believe in yourself, don’t be scared to try new things. If something does not work out, you can try something else. Rather live with the reality that something did not work out, than the regret that it could have worked out, and you will never know. So, take chances, do your best, take criticism, make changes and grow.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

I still love teaching, so I use every opportunity I get to speak to someone, to teach. I also love writing and putting my thoughts on paper every so often.

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