The GE Reports Africa blog has launched a new series known as “Women in Technology” which profiles GE SSA’s unsung female heroes, highlighting their contribution at GE.
Sometimes, sacrifices have to be made to achieve one’s goals. Beauty Mtshweni, Project Manager, Operations & Infrastructure for GE Transportation IT in South Africa, gave up a full-time job to join a government education programme in the information technology (IT) field. At the time, she didn’t see any potential in the retail sector and says “there were no growth opportunities for me in retail and the industry is such that it forces you to work long hours and be away from your family without any incentives.”
Thankfully, Beauty’s mother took in her and her daughter and supported them on a meagre cleaner’s salary while Beauty obtained two certificates in technical support and IT networking. Beauty, who started working as a contractor for GE in 2014 was hired full-time a few months later, is now studying a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. “I’m studying for this degree to understand the bigger aspects of business and I’m excited about studying modules such as strategy, financial management and human resources.”
When she started studying IT, Beauty wasn’t all that interested in this field. “I slowly discovered the beauty of IT and everything I learnt was fascinating. I had to learn about the internal hardware systems of a computer, how all the components come together and it just blew my mind. I had found a new love. I would purposefully dismantle and rebuild computers just to practice what I was learning.”
Beauty has worked on large projects such as IT network infrastructure implementation on new sites in South Africa and Mozambique. These sites had no connectivity and GE employees would often be required to connect to the internet with their 3G dongles due to poor network coverage. Given this struggle, Beauty felt a sense of fulfilment after implementing the necessary facilities that enabled the broader team to ‘connect’ with the world.
If there’s one thing Beauty doesn’t appreciate, it’s the sexism that she encounters on occasion. “Sometimes, there’s an automatic assumption that because I’m a woman, I can’t do certain aspects of my job. Therefore, I need to work harder and raise my voice higher to be heard. However, these challenges don’t get me down. I hold my head up high, do what needs to be done and let my work speak for itself.”
“I think it’s important for more girls and women to get involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] fields to send a message to society that women are capable and these are no longer ‘men’s spaces’. Women can handle any STEM role. We just need more women in these roles to inspire the upcoming generation,” said Beauty, who is looking forward to getting involved in mentoring young girls.
“My job is fascinating. In the line of work I am in, I am constantly tested and sometimes have to do extensive research to find the necessary solutions. This means that I am developing and learning as nothing is obvious or routine. Due to these challenges, I am guaranteed to have an awesome day because I’m passionate about providing solutions for our customers.”
Beauty has been on a few courses at GE and appreciates the opportunity to develop her skills. “The project management course I completed helps me to run my projects better and the Foundation of Leadership course I did in Kenya was also very good. I also recently finished the New Leaders Success Programme [NLSP] and that blew my mind because it tapped into my inner being and my emotional intelligence. The NLSP seeks to help you understand yourself, where you are and how to prepare for your future at GE.”
“The course dives into the importance of planning, preparation, positivity, people, passion, perseverance, patience, purpose and prayer. I have now given myself three challenges of time, exercising and reading to work on the next three months with the aim that it becomes a part of my life. Our coach, Joshua Awesome, says we have to do what we hate to create what we love and people enable people to succeed. If you are going to get the best from life, treasure people. I think these lessons are great and that’s why I’m sharing them,” said Beauty.