Nocwaka Ntshangase completed her National Diploma in Engineering Metallurgy with NMMU and went on to complete her B-Tech degree in Engineering Metallurgy with the University of Johannesburg. She has also completed courses in management development and executive development programmes.
Her career as a metallurgist started at Mintek. She then moved to Columbus Stainless and worked as a product metallurgist, then to commercial sales, where she climbed the corporate ladder to her current position as Senior Local Sales Manager.
She has been the board director, vice-chairperson and treasurer of the Mpumalanga Stainless Initiative (MSI) as well as the director for the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency.
She is married with two children.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEING WORKING IN THE STAINLESS STEEL INDUSTRY AND WHAT IS THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER?
I joined the industry in 2000. My whole career at Columbus Stainless has been a highlight: from being part of the development and improvement of Grade 441 for the automotive industry when I joined Columbus as an engineer in training, to joining the Commercial Department and my appointment as Senior Local Sales Manager.
WHAT IS THE MOST ENJOYABLE PART OF YOUR JOB?
I enjoy making a difference to the small enterprises, but my job is to bring in sales to Columbus and I have to smile every time we land a project, big or small. The feeling is priceless when supplying to projects that you can point to and say: “That is local Columbus material.”
YOU TRAVEL EXTENSIVELY, IS THIS A PERK OR A PEEVE?
As a wife and a mother its a peeve. It is, however, a manageable peeve as my responsibility is to the South African market. Now that it has been extended to the rest of Southern Africa I am not sure if I am looking forward to that part of travelling .
WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING A WOMAN IN A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY, PARTICULARLY A METALLURGIST BY TRAINING?
It required patience and understanding while people were getting to know me and for them to start trusting me and having confidence in me. In some circles though, oh my gosh, I still stand out like a sore thumb. The industry has its work cut out for it in terms of transformation (not numbers; but brains).
WHAT IS SOMETHING NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT NOCWAKA NTSHANGASE?
I would like to think I am an open book. I am a firm believer in God and I believe in the concept of “Pay it Forward”.
Stay true to yourself at all times and people will learn to respect you for who you really are and recognise your contribution.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU AREN’T WORKING?
I spend time with my family, doing anything that involves them; whether it is sitting on a couch or going on an outing.
IF YOU HAD NOT BECOME A METALLURGIST, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?
Ha ha ha; something quite different to the technical field. I would probably be a Psychologist, I love working with people and helping kids especially.
WHY STAINLESS STEEL?
Stainless is a lifetime product.