THABAZIMBI – Cornelia Holtzhausen was appointed general manager at Thabazimbi mine, becoming Kumba Iron Ore’s first female general manager during December 2010. Her achievement, also a first for the Group, demonstrates the increasingly influential role that women are playing both in our operations and in the wider mining industry. She holds a BSc Metallurgical Engineering degree from Potchefstroom University and a MBA and HSC Mining Engineering from the University of Pretoria. She is a registered professional engineer with several leadership courses behind her back.
“At first when you go into mining you think it’s all about rocks and equipment but eventually you realise it’s more than that. Even if you have the very best technical solution, without the support and buy-in of other people you won’t be able to take it forward. Mining really is all about people.”
She grew up in a mining environment in Randfontein. Her friend’s father was a metallurgist and his career sparked her interest in mining and metals. Cornelia’s dream to become a Metallurgical Engineer was made possible through a bursary from ISCOR. “I never thought of mining as something a woman shouldn’t do. I was brought up to believe I could follow any career I chose,” she said.
She joined Kumba Iron Ore at Thabazimbi in 1994 after completing her degree in metallurgical engineering at Potchefstroom University. She indicated that she has no regrets about her decision to work for Kumba and that she felt in no way treated differently because she is a woman.
“Respect is something you earn and it sometimes takes a fair amount of hard work to achieve this. If you deliver in your job you will be successful and prosper in your career, irrespective of the environment in which you operate,” says Cornelia.
With this philosophy driving her, it is easy to see why Cornelia was appointed the first female GM at Kumba.
She cares deeply about people and believes that you achieve great things when you take people along on your journey. She believes that the success of a business is hinged to managers encouraging and enabling their people to achieve big goals. “At times it is necessary for us to be cruel to be kind, but we do this only because we are looking out for the best interests of our people”, she remarked.
“My management style is derived from my personal belief in the potential and ability of people”, she reiterated. Cornelia also sees teamwork as the means through which common goals and meaningful dreams can be achieved. Her sentiments are that managers ought to lead by example and in time people end up leading each other in performing their daily tasks. She says that people are fulfilled when they get the opportunity to help others create things. “Everyone should therefore be presented with opportunities to get involved in projects that excite and inspire them,” she encourages.
Having made an indelible mark in her career to date, she has also gained a wealth of experience at Thabazimbi mine. She leaves the mine with all goodwill, in-depth understanding of the mine’s needs and the required management knowledge and skills. As an asset to Kumba and the mining industry Cornelia is well equipped to take on the challenges of her new position head on.
The one passion Cornelia could also live out in her role as General Manager at Thabazimbi mine was to keep the community at heart. She was empowered to allow Kumba to make a considerable difference in the community. She believes that as responsible miners we need to earn our citizenship by assisting our home communities to be more sustainable.
Over the past 20 years, prior to her appointment as General Manager, Cornelia Holtzhausen has held management positions in process development, asset optimisation and projects, ore beneficiation and continuous improvement. She moves on to occupy the position of Executive Consultant on Leadership and Culture for Kumba, a position that she will, no doubt, shine in.
Reflecting on the time spent at Thaba she said: “I am grateful for the opportunities provided. I leave the mine and town with fond memories, and will continue being an ambassador.”
Thabazimbi mine appreciates the gift that Cornelia has been to the mine and the local community and wishes her the best of success in her new endeavours.
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