Brander currently sits on the board of Silverback Drills, a borehole drilling equipment supply company. Starting out as a business analyst, she realised that she would rather be “putting on a pair of safety boots” and working in an environment where she can see the results of her work in a finished product.
“I have always enjoyed working in a challenging environment where great and big machines are built from smaller fabrication components; it is still inspiring to see the final product commissioned.”
Mechanical and industrial engineering is still largely a male-dominated industry, and Brander has often had to fight to be heard and acknowledged. “Working with management teams at design level on a number of different scope drill rigs, my ideas and suggestions have at times been challenged and rejected at inception level. These ideas would then go on to be incorporated in the final product with the frontline engineers getting recognition as the ‘guys who got the job done’. I believe my input was often overlooked being a female in the team.”
Brander believes “a proactive and collective effort by company leadership” is required in order to “challenge the existing stereotypes faced by women every day and make a mindful shift towards the culture of inclusion”.
However, more and more women are being elevated to executive positions. “I believe female leadership styles foster a more supportive and nurturing environment.”
She has been described as “a truly dedicated humanitarian”. Brander says that her greatest satisfaction is seeing a successful water strike. “I have seen many a mother or young woman’s daily struggle when walking for kilometers to fetch safe drinking water for their families.” Many of us take access to water for granted. To see men, women and children — who have suffered terribly from a lack of water — finally collecting water from a well point is humbling, and the knowledge that one of her drilling rigs have alleviated this suffering touches her deeply.
#onedrillrigatatime is an initiative that was established a year ago by Brander and involves both the drilling industry and local community businesses in various regions of Africa. For every drill rig sold, one borehole is donated to a village or community in need of safe drinking water.
Brander’s latest project is the development of fully autonomous operating systems for their drilling machines, which will ensure a safer and more efficient working environment. She is excited by the prospect of her son joining her in the business and continuing her vision of providing clean and safe drinking water to all who need it.
It is likely that one day you will find Brander in her safety boots, out in the field ensuring that her legacy endures. “I will always continue to do my part,” she says.
Tracy Brander is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. In fact, she would rather be in the field than in the boardroom, drilling for water in an effort to bring safe drinking water and sanitation to all who need it.