The daughter of Kamala

While the thought of a “liberal” American vice president may make some readers distinctly uncomfortable, VP-elect Kamala Harris has cracked, if not shattered a significant glass ceiling for women worldwide.

In the days following the US election, TV stations aired stories of emotional parents sharing their daughters crying with joy at seeing someone just like them, about to occupy one of the highest offices in the world. Female leaders who break through the glass ceiling to enter into leadership positions in male-dominated worlds like politics, business and mining, of course, do indeed carry a huge responsibility .

Just over a year ago, I was one of the guests invited to the official opening of the Gamsberg zinc mine in the Northern Cape. What stood out for me was that apart from the expected list of dignitaries (including President Cyril Ramaphosa) Deshnee Naidoo, the young CEO of Vedanta International was accompanied at one of the main tables by her husband, her kids and her parents. Not quite the norm for industry functions.

Sometimes actions speak louder than words: what Naidoo demonstrated that day, without saying a word, was that despite the presence of the president of South Africa, her boss, industry dignitaries, employees and local community leaders, her role as a daughter, a wife and a mother was just as important as her role as CEO.

I will never forget the pride in the eyes of Naidoo’s mother, Ms Kamala Maduramutha, when I met her that day. This “daughter of Kamala” is a role model for all, not least many young women in the mining industry!

Listen to Deshnee’s response about being a role model for women in mining.