Bridget Zuma-Rubambura is a commercial and business development manager at Air Liquide, an organisation that provides industrial gas supply to key industries in South Africa.
After completing a degree in metallurgical engineering, she pursued her master’s degree in physical metallurgy, specialising in welding and corrosion at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Zuma-Rubambura’s industry knowledge and background in stainless steel and aluminium, and the application of multiple production optimisation techniques, opened doors for her to get into business.
After completing her master’s, Zuma-Rubambura was seeking a career pivot from the plant and production facility into business strategy development. She then applied for a role at Air Liquide and was subsequently promoted.
“My proudest achievement of all is raising my kids, but from a career space, it’s running a geographically diverse team with a strong emphasis on transformation and being one of the highest performing teams for business strategy deployment. Academically, it was being recognised as a Golden Key chapter award winner for my master’s.”
Zuma-Rubambura’s knowledge grew from discussions with people about the success strategies they deployed in leadership roles, receiving guidance from women leaders running organisations like Southern African Women in Leadership and Women in Mining South Africa.
With a transformative management style, Zuma-Rubambura prides herself on a collaborative approach, which leads to growth and impact. She believes a good leader “has the ability to listen, diligently analyse and guide with respect”.
If she could change one thing for South Africa today? “Strengthening our economic status, particularly for young women in South Africa. By strengthening our economy, we will have the ability to provide opportunities for talented and trained youth in critical change industries, which is crucial for our country’s growth.”
She says that the biggest challenges in her career have been striking a work-life balance, as well as overcoming sexism, ageism and microaggressions. She overcame these by learning how to be strategic with her time, and by calling out and educating people about microaggressions when observed.
Workplaces should create environments that are conducive for women employees to excel and operate, and should ensure that corporate frameworks and guidelines are transformative,” she says.
Her advice to women entering the business world? “Be yourself, but don’t get comfortable. Always be willing to reinvent yourself on your growth trajectory. Do not be afraid to make mistakes and take bold steps while continuously learning.”
Zuma-Rubambura is working on her PhD in metallurgical engineering and is also collaborating with the Aluminium Federation of Southern Africa as a speaker at their international conference this year.
In the future, she wishes to continue to influence spaces by positively driving transformation and she looks forward to potentially working in other parts of Africa, as she believes there is a lot of value African women can contribute.