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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Extraordinary Women: Prof Thobeka Mda

Since its early days as a newly-merged institution CPUT has demonstrated confidence in women leadership by appointing women in key positions in the university’s management structures.

Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof Thobeka Mda, is one such woman. Mda joined CPUT in 2012 and has also recently been appointed as the Institutional Forum Chairperson.

She shared some of her highlights at the university with the CPUT news:

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being able to influence the quality of new teachers we send out to the world, and being part of decision-makers at the institution.

Can you point out a career highlight during your time at CPUT?

Every time I have over-exceeded the targets set for me by management and by myself. For example, in the area of equity transformation in the faculty and its research outputs, as well as when faculty staff and students excel and bring glory to the university.

What do you attribute your success to?

  • A good upbringing
  • Fair minded in implementing decisions and systems
  • Consistent in standards
  • Remaining calm under pressure
  • Being able to weigh up all relevant factors before reaching decisions

Do you have any words of advice for the generation of women behind you?

A quote I find very true: “Management is not for sissies” or “If you cannot take the heat, stay out of the kitchen”.

Women are not particularly handicapped or weaker than men as managers, but usually have a different style of leadership and management, so women should not try to act like men to be effective. It’s important to know who you are, and what you stand for, and not get swayed by flattery, intimidation or the need to be popular.

Often you have to take unpopular decisions; as long as these are justified, and for the common good, and not personal or intended to harm or frustrate anyone, stand by your decision.

Withdraw and apologise if necessary when proven to have made a mistake.

What woman inspires you and why?

Women who are strong, confident and high achievers, and yet show no pride, but carry themselves with calmness  and dignity.

Examples are Advocate Thuli Madonsela and Mrs Graca Machel; there are others, but these came to mind first. There are more women who inspire me in different categories, for example. Oprah, Serena Williams etc.

Do you have a women’s day message?

Do not wait for Women’s Day to celebrate being a woman, or wait for others to acknowledge and appreciate you. Celebrate your existence, your achievements and things that bring you joy. Always have a group of women with whom you celebrate life and share life’s disappointments with.

Written by Kwanele Butana

Email: butanak@cput.ac.za