Ex-PE ports boss up for top award

Ship comes in for Peddie-born auditor and operations expert

TOP JOB: Nosipho Siwisa Damasane
TOP JOB: Nosipho Siwisa Damasane

THE former general manager for port operations in Port Elizabeth, Nosipho Siwisa-Damasane, is in line for a national business award tomorrow night at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

Now the chief executive of the Richards Bay coal terminal, Damasane is one of three finalists. She will hear tomorrow night if she has won in her corporate category at the Businesswoman’s Association of South Africa (Bwasa) Businesswoman of the Year Awards.

It comes as no surprise to those around her that the Peddie-born and bred leader has been successful in her career, coming from a strong family background rooted in education. She left Port Elizabeth to move to KwaZulu Natal.

Busy making waves at the Transnet port terminal industry, Nosipho is one of a few black female chief executives in her industry. She grew up wanting to be a pharmacist but due to a very strong-willed father, she ended up studying accounting at the University of Transkei to please him.

“From a very young age I knew I wanted to study pharmacy but when I matriculated from Nathalien Pamla High School, I ended up going to UniTra because, at the time, Wiseman Lumkile Nkuhlu, the first black African accountant in the country, was the head of the department of accounting and also vice-chancellor and, according to my father, there was more to learn there than going to Fore Hare University, where he studied,” Nosipho said.

Damasane said that when she eventually reached high school, her father came out of retirement specifically to teach her at school.

“My father was a published author of Xhosa short stories and thus he was very respected.

“His presence at school made it even more difficult for me to get away with stuff,” the proud daughter said.

Nosipho’s father sadly died before he could see all she had accomplished. She graduated with a BCom accounting degree from the University of Transkei and went on to complete her articles with Ernst and Young, an auditing company in East London.

Being the CEO of the largest export coal terminal in the world has not made Nosipho ignorant to the gender challenge.

“In every aspect of my career, I try and push my female colleagues towards development and engineering positions.

The mother of three said she found her passion when she got an opportunity to study accounting in the field of port operations, port management and logistics in Singapore, Antwerp and London.

“I felt I had done my father proud in the field of auditing but when I found port operations and logistics, I found my passion and have never looked back.”

The 48-year-old, who was instrumental in the commercialisation of the Port of Ngqura in Port Elizabeth, was recently named Africa’s most influential woman in business and government in the logistics and shipping category for South Africa and the SADC south region. She is also up for a Bwasa businesswoman of the year award in the corporate category.

“Being nominated for businesswoman of the year is humbling because I’ve been nominated by women who’ve done well in their own right and because I always think they’re looking for women based in the big cities such as Johannesburg and I’ve never been based there.”

Nosipho shared how she viewed award ceremonies as an opportunity to network.

“I get to network and share ideas with like-minded women.”

She said one of the highlights of her career was the R1.3-billion investment in the Port of Ngqura and recalled how it came as a surprise to everyone at the time due to the economic pressures. “People didn’t have faith but we pulled through and closed the deal.”

-Nomazima Nkosi

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