Zukiswa Sithole, apprentice technician at Tavcor Volkswagen in Port Elizabeth, has been named the Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) 2018 Woman of the Year.
The Motor Industry Staff Association (MISA) each year pays homage to the remarkable women in the motor retail sector with their Woman of the Year Award, the most prestigious of its kind in the motor retail sector.
Zukiswa was the 2018 Regional Finalist for the Eastern Cape Region and takes the coveted title home to Port Elizabeth.
‘It’s about making a difference’
According to Martlé Keyter, MISA’s CEO: Operations, any female MISA member who works in the motor retail sector is eligible for a nomination. Candidates do not necessarily have to be the most senior women in the industry, but must make a difference in the lives of others in one way or another and serve as a role model for other women in the industry.
“They must display the potential to grow and develop personally and professionally, have a strong community and career focus, while still living a balanced life,” notes Martlé.
“Zukiswa impressed our independent panel of judges with her sparkle, tenacity and potential to develop,” says Martlé. “We know she will do us proud.”
A long way to realise her dreams
Zuki, as she is known, has come a long way from her difficult childhood years in Bizana in the Eastern Cape, where she grew up in extreme poverty. But Zuki was determined to become successful and not be bound or defined by her challenging circumstances.
And while cars were an unfamiliar sight in the community, Zuki somehow knew that she wanted to work on them.
Shortly after writing her matric exams, Zuki boarded a bus to the city of Port Elizabeth, never having left the confines of Bizana before. “People warned me to keep on the pavement when I got off the bus, but I had no idea what a pavement was, as we didn’t have any in Bizana,” she laughs.
Zuki eventually managed to find her way to the Port Elizabeth College, where she studied Automotive Engineering.
Money was tight, but she worked hard to support herself as well as pay for her studies, including making “vetkoek” at night and selling them at college the next day, while working as a domestic worker over weekends.
Today, Zuki has become a role model for others and is a popular motivational speaker. She has never forgotten her roots and is eager to help others. She is passionate about her job and makes no secret of the fact that her ambition is to work herself up to management status.
As part of her prize, Zuki wins an education trip to the 2019 NADA Conference in San Francisco.
MISA Woman of the Year Regional Finalists also play an important role
As part of the process to find the MISA Woman of the Year, a Regional Finalist is chosen in each MISA Region and they are then interviewed by an independent panel of judges. But this is not where the roads end for the Regional Finalists, as they play an important role in the MISA Women’s Forum.
Free State/Northern Cape Region: Ursula Brookes
Ursula is a bookkeeper at Auto Niche Bloemfontein, which is part of the Imperial Group.
She always reaches out to others, whether it be family, friends, colleagues or just people who have fallen on hard times. Her family is very close to her and she just adores her granddaughter. “I try to live according to the values of love and caring and am always prepared to help,” she says. And help she does, as she supports two families and has to follow a strict budget to make ends meet.
“I love to help others in need,” she says, and sharing what she has with others is second nature.
KwaZulu-Natal Region: Christine Lutchmiah
Christine is a master service advisor at Bidvest McCarthy Toyota in Pinetown.
She believes women working in what has traditionally been a male-dominated environment have to overcome bias and stereotyping by proving themselves in the workplace.
She works long hours, but always sets quality time aside to spend with her young daughter.
Children are close to her heart and she contributes her time and effort to Pinetown Children’s Welfare, where she’s driven a project to sponsor food items.
Northern/Highveld Region: Michelle Vorster
Michelle is a service contracts controller at Volvo Group Southern Africa in Johannesburg.
She splits her day in three with eight hours each for work, sleep, and spending time with people. She is passionate about people and has a soft spot for children.
Michelle devotes much of her time to helping people with cancer. To this end, she was involved with the CANSA Bus Drive, CANSA tea and an ongoing drive to collect blood for cancer patients.
Her mantra in life is to stand up every time you fall. “I firmly believe that failure is just another step on the journey to success,” she says.
Western Province Region: Charlese Both
Charlese is a costing clerk at Barloworld Ford N1 City in Cape Town. She is in her last year of studies in the field of theology counselling and says she would love to get more involved with women and health issues. One of the highlights of Charlese’s year is when she assists with a Christmas party for 1 000 children through a non-profitable organisation in Ruyterwacht.
She is also involved in various fundraising events and believes “you never know your limits until you push them.”
Charlese’s dream is to establish a place of safety where women and children can be protected and find the help they need.