Vuyile Ngqulunga has made significant strides to realise her ambition of becoming a “strong, independent black woman”.
Now, thanks to her place in Engen’s Graduate Development Programme, she is preparing to focus on the second half of that goal – to empower other women like herself and help young children achieve greater results, “as that will help pave the way for them”.
Vuyile believes that it is important for all women to understand that all that is great, comes from hard work and determination.
Speaking out to mark Women’s Month, Vuyile says her personal philosophy is “To leave a profit wherever you go. If you make it a habit to leave a profit where ever you go, you are destined to be a person of value. I am a woman who wants the world to be a better place. I want to leave a mark, and not to be forgotten”.
Today she is a proud Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg campus) and has a job in Engen’s Human Resource department in Cape Town.
“During my school years, I lived in a small town called Estcourt and went to Estcourt High school. I am fortunate to have supportive parents who have always encouraged me to not to give up and face life with a positive attitude,” she says.
Vuyile knows that it was her own motivation and work ethic that secured her a spot in the Engen Maths and Science Schools (EMSS) programme at Howard College from grade 10 until she matriculated, setting her life on its current trajectory.
“I felt very privileged to secure a spot” she recalls, adding that the extra lessons proved crucial during her matric year. “Since we were all from different schools, we were exposed to alternative ways of doing calculations and this highlighted that there’s always a solution to a problem. We had excellent teachers who have such a passion for what they do and that made learning much easier.”
After matriculating, Vuyile was offered a full bursary. After graduating she joined the Engen Graduate development programme. “The programme has equipped me with the skills I need for the working world, and taught me to embrace and to be proud of myself and with what I have achieved thus far. One of the key lessons was that in stepping out of your comfort zone, you learn more about yourself and get to unleash your full potential.”
The empowerment of black women is a top priority for Engen, according to Unathi Magida, Engen’s head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, who says they are focused on integrating more women across the entire value chain.
The statistics point to the success of the strategy, with a total 46% of Engen’s retail dealerships now black, 10% of them women. The Engen Limited board comprises 45% black members, and 22% black women, while the Engen management committee is 50% black and 42% female.
On their commitment to education, Magida explains that Engen supports excellence and opportunity amongst the youth right from school through to university.
Citing Vuyile as an example, she says they are working actively to build a pipeline of black and female graduates, for the future good of the company and the country.
Vuyile says she is proud to be an example in her neighbourhood that it is possible to break away from the norm that sees many youngsters dropping out of school, incurring teenage pregnancy and abusing substances.
“One day I will start a youth organisation to give back, to show them there is another way,” she says.