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The technical slurry pump industry may seem daunting for many women but not for Pump and Abrasion Technologies, general manager, Nicole Grinaker.

Not only has she accepted the challenges that come with this role but is at the helm of championing the cause for more female representation in the Company.

Grinaker has always kept her eye on the prize with having her career path mapped out at an early age. After qualifying with a degree in finance, she decided to venture into banking.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 8, 2019
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She quickly moved up the ranks, eventually landing the position of Head of Investment Banking at Grindrod Bank Limited.  

Her success there was so rapid that she become the youngest member on the bank’s executive committee.

It was during this tenure that she had the opportunity to work with and get to know PAB and its shareholders and was impressed by the Company’s forward thinking, ethos and ambition.

In October 2018, Grinaker closed the chapter on her banking career, taking up the position of general manager at PAB.

Now, less than a year into her role at the Company, it is clear that Grinaker’s vision and fresh approach has already had a positive impact on the Company.

Challenging traditional norms

With no experience in the mining industry, coupled with the fact that PAB comprises mainly of men, Grinaker knew that her new role would be challenging and would be met with resistance to change.

“This is a technical business and it took me a while to grasp the technical aspects. Also, it was quite a shock for my male peers to see me taking charge in the boardroom.”

However, this soon changed and in fact Grinaker adds that her team now not only respects her authority but have become very protective.

However, Grinaker is not just focused on building a name for herself in the industry, but rather is committed to ensuring more female representation in the company.

“While this is a very manually- intensive industry, I believe there are opportunities for women at all levels within our organisation and in the industry as a whole, she adds.

"To that end, since Grinaker’s appointment, she has overseen bringing on board females in key roles at the Company, including HR, finance, procurement, operations, marketing and sales.

Furthermore, Grinaker explains that the company will soon appoint its first female key accounts manager. “This is an exciting development as she will be at the coal face of client interaction in the field,” she highlights.

Education key to transformation

In addition to employing more females at PAB, Grinaker is also raising awareness about women’s rights and the challenges they face in the workspace.

“Change starts within the organisation. If we can re-educate our teams about the importance and value that women add in roles, we can then look at changing the way in which the entire industry thinks and behaves and this is what forms part of my focus.

"Fortunately, I have the support of a visionary in my MD, Jaco Buitendag, who understands the importance of making these changes,” she concludes.