Today, resilient and competent women leaders are able to enter any industry. They hold the potential to play the most crucial role even in a male-dominated industry like mining. They educate themselves with sufficient knowledge about the industry and become capable of performing the role of a leader in the choice of their industry. Boipelo P Lekubo, the Financial Director to Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited, is one such woman leader in the mining industry.
Boipelo joined Harmony in July 2017 as a Chief Financial Officer. She was subsequently appointed as Financial Director in March 2020. She has extensive experience in group financial management and reporting within the mining industry. She is a partner to business units and departments within the Harmony group with the main objective of ensuring the overall financial management of the business and all other financial objectives are achieved.
Enhancing Operational Efficiencies with New Ideas
There is no journey without challenges. Talking about her journey, Boipelo mentions that having a leadership role in a male-dominated industry such as mining always presents its challenges. These challenges are further exacerbated by being a millennial and having colleagues who are considerably older than her. However, she is a seasoned mining industry professional, having been in the industry for 12 years and led various teams throughout her tenure at multiple companies. She has had to rely on her leadership and management capabilities and style, bringing forth new ideas to enhance the company’s operational efficiencies. Besides, she also mentions that the support from her team has also been overwhelming.
Playing An Active Role in Operational and Strategic Decisions
There is no denying how the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted several businesses in different industries globally. Boipelo mentions that the mining industry, particularly in South Africa, is no stranger to dealing with occupational diseases. This was once again evident in Harmony’s swift response to Covid-19, where specific protocols and standard operating procedures were implemented from the onset.
As much as the company saw a decline in its production numbers during the various levels of lockdown, the industry saw a substantial increase in commodity prices, with mining companies yielding the highest returns in 2020. Boipelo played an active role in all business aspects in order to support Harmony in operational and strategic decisions.
Managing Energy Efficiencies and Reducing Carbon Intensities
At Harmony, everyone believes in doing what it does best, producing safe, profitable ounces and controlling only what it can, which is its costs and production. Integrated environmental, social, and governance thinking is ingrained within the company, in its strategy and the way it does business. Its focus is on managing energy efficiencies and reducing carbon intensities through the life cycle of its operations. It aims to conduct its mining activities and associated processes in a manner that complies with environmental legislation and considerate of the environment and its communities. Harmony seeks to serve and leave a positive post-mining legacy. The ideal of excellence in environmental performance underpins its business strategy.
Being Accessible and Appreciating Contribution of Employees
Moreover, Boipelo believes that positive work culture is a business imperative in the 21st century. Employees need to know that they are making an impact in their specific roles and contributing to the company’s overall success. At Harmony, its structure is fairly flat, and it believes in an open-door policy. As such, many of its employees have direct access to the senior executives, which is quite uncommon at most organizations.
Integrated Approach to Decision Making
At Harmony, safety is its first value, and it has already seen a marked improvement in safety statistics over the years. It has also adopted an integrated approach to decision-making where there is active consideration given towards the relationship between its operations and its impact on its resources, people, and environment. The mining industry has been at the forefront of demonstrating true sustainability for some time now.
Creating Win-Win Situation
Apart from Harmony’s social and labor plans, which are a regulatory requirement in mining, the company has gone above and beyond its call as responsible corporate citizens. Its approach is aimed at partnering with its stakeholders, creating a win-win situation. Stakeholder engagement is the principal mechanism through which Harmony manages and addresses a wide range of expectations and perceptions within its communities.
Delivering Long-term Value to Stakeholders
Heading into the future, Harmony will undoubtedly benefit from the many opportunities that have been created through its recent acquisitions. Through careful and strategic capital allocation decisions, it has improved almost all of its metrics both financial and non-financial. Harmony is confident in its ability to deliver long-term positive shareholder and stakeholder returns and remains committed to achieving its strategic objectives of safe, profitable ounces.
Inspiring and Uplifting Communities
Boipelo is currently pursuing her Executive MBA through the UCT Graduate School of Business, and that is where a lot of her excess energy is directed. She likes to think that being impactful is a life journey, given the different stages one goes through in life.
Moreover, Boipelo would like to see the inclusivity of female representation in mining. She considers it is no longer being something to celebrate but rather a social norm. She also hopes to inspire and uplift communities, particularly the young girl and boy child. She states that they need to know, now more than ever, that their dreams are valid and can be achieved.
In her most precious advice to aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in the mining industry Boipelo says, “Be resilient and authentic, nothing in this life worth having comes easy. Educate yourselves and accumulate a wealth of knowledge about the industry, this will be your greatest asset. Above all – be yourself.”