Women have made significant inroads in the rope-access industry, thanks to diversity and inclusion initiatives on the part of leading players like Skyriders, which has a number of female technicians and even a supervisor. “it has been quite amazing to see how far women have come in such a male-dominated industry. I would like to see more women given a chance to showcase their capabilities and perseverance,” says Rethabile Mofokeng, HR Administrator and Skills Development Facilitator at Skyriders.
Rethabile’s responsibilities include compiling and maintaining employee records, updating databases internally, preparing and amending HR documents where necessary, such as contracts and recruitment guides, and planning, implementing and providing reporting on training. She matriculated from Milner High School in Klerksdorp and completed a NOSA safety course in 2014.
“Skyriders is one of the best companies I have ever worked for. The environment is so warm and my colleagues are amazing. None of that has changed since I started my journey here in 2018 as a receptionist. The fact that, a year later, I was in a different seat was quite significant to me. The recognition and room for growth is remarkable,” says Rethabile.
Taking over the training department was a bit of a learning curve. “I had to learn a lot quickly and eventually managed to get on track in developing our technicians and staff.” A professional highlight has been Skyriders receiving an award from the Services SETA for being one of the top 50 levy contributors since Rethabile has been in charge of mandatory grant submissions.
“This industry can be very overwhelming, so I always try to learn as much as I can every day. I would say my biggest challenge is getting through to the labourers and shop stewards without offending or stepping on anyone’s toes,” says Rethabile.
“Women can make an amazing contribution if afforded the opportunity. However, they are not encouraged enough to put their best foot forward, and I believe we should be given that chance to explore and, most importantly, inspire.”
“I think that the industry is making attempts to introduce more women into rope access, but it would be nice to just see that process moving a bit quicker. I believe that women can play as important a role as men in the industry,” says Natalie Woods, HR (IMS) Officer, and Quality Manager for the drone department at Skyriders.
In terms of HR, Natalie is responsible for maintaining the company’s ISO standards (ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001), conducting internal and external audits, and maintaining and updating the IMS system and all company documentation. Her role at the SkyEye drone division is to ensure compliance with all South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) legislations and regulations, among other functions.
“It has been such a great experience working for Skyriders. It is a wonderful, nurturing and educational environment,” says Natalie. Her career commenced in 2014 as an administration assistant in the recruitment department, which she eventually ended up leading, whereafter she became involved with the quality and drone side of the business.
“My professional highlights cannot be described as particular moments, but more as my entire experience at Skyriders. I have always worked to the best of my ability, and Skyriders has always noted my efforts and encouraged my growth. I have always been afforded the opportunity to grow and learn further.”
Natalie’s message to women contemplating a similar career path in such a demanding industry is: “Work hard and do not let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. If you want it, work for it and never stop learning.”
Rethabile concurs: “I would say once you take that initial step, go all the way. You may encounter many obstacles, but you must never be defeated. By just showing our support of women on any platform will pave the way for the greater involvement of women throughout industry.”