Women’s Month is a special month for Engen as it provides the company with an opportunity to reflect on its commitment to helping gifted South African women explore new horizons.
Sinothando Tiso is one of many young women whose horizons have broadened thanks to Engen.
Speaking out to mark Women’s Month, Sinothando says her personal philosophy is to “find your WHY, and your HOW will fall into place.”
Continues Sinothando: “What I am trying to say to all young South African women is that it does not matter where you come from. Or what resources you have. If you strongly believe in your dreams and are willing to work hard enough to see them come to life, then it is possible to achieve them with the little that you have. So, for as long as you know your WHY, you will never lose your path. As one of my high school teachers used say, where there is a will, there is always a way”.
Sinothando grew up in Motherwell in the Eastern Cape, where she completed her schooling, and is the first person in her family to attend university. This is a great achievement and the culmination of the enormous effort and sacrifices of her parents and grandmother who consistently encouraged her and always provided for her, despite often challenging circumstances.
“I was raised by my late grandmother who took care of me,” explains Sinothando. “My parents worked day and night trying and make ends meet. I am truly grateful, because no matter how tough things got at times, I don’t recall ever going to bed on an empty stomach. Also, the values that my grandmother instilled in me, from a young age, are what influenced the good choices I have made in my life, the things that I’ve achieved and the responsible young woman that I’ve become.”
Today Sinothando is a proud Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. And thanks to her place in Engen’s Graduate Development Programme she is employed in Engen’s Lubricants Technical Department in Cape Town.
Sinothando attributes her love of science to the Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) that she attended while in high school.
She first heard about the EMSS programme from her physical science teacher. She joined the EMSS Grade 10 group, where she attended the supplementary classes held at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, every Saturday, until she matriculated.
“One of the greatest experiences I got from attending EMSS was working in a real science laboratory for the first time. The high school that I attended did not have lab facilities. This had a great influence on my career choice and played a vital role in preparing me for university.”
Like most ambitious young people, Sinothando dreams of career success and improving her knowledge. But she admits that she is a big dreamer who has so much that she still wants to achieve. “One of my biggest life goals is to build my parents their dream house. Their consistent support through my university years are what made it possible for me to make it this far. That made me promise myself that I will measure my success by the size of the smile on their faces.”
She believes that life is there for the taking and that determination and grit plays a big role.
“Attitude is everything,” says Sinothando. “The way you see life and the results of your actions all depend on your attitude.”
Leaving the comfort of her home to go and study at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with no back-up, family or friends was very difficult for her. “But I am rather proud to have made it through, because it brought about an immense amount of growth. When you step out of your comfort zone, you learn more about yourself and get to unleash your full potential.”
Upon graduating Sinothando was invited to join Engen’s Graduate Development Programme which she describes as nothing short of amazing so far. “The exposure to so many different fields and areas of the Engen business and the limitless opportunities that comes with being on this programme is overwhelming”.
Transformation and the empowerment of black women is a top priority for Engen. According to Unathi Magida, Engen’s Head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, the company is focused on integrating more women across the entire value chain.
The statistics point to the success of Engen’s strategy, with a 46% of Engen retail dealerships now black-owned, 10% of them women-owned. The Engen Limited board comprises 45% black members, and 22% black women, while the Engen management committee is 50% black and 42% female.
On the company’s commitment to education, Magida explains that Engen supports excellence and opportunity amongst the youth right from school through to university.
“We are working actively to build a pipeline of black and female graduates, for the future good of the company and the country. We are proud to give Sinothando her wings and look forward to watching her fly,” adds Magida.
By continuing to attract and grow the minds and talents of young women like Sinothando Tiso and to shape the careers of gifted graduates, Engen is forging ahead on its journey to make positive change.
Helping talented South African women to explore new horizons proves once again that as a company, Engen is committed to helping build a prosperous future for all South Africans.