Pioneering female engineering foreman

Sky is the limit… Elizabeth Kambonde, a qualified auto electrician who has been appointed by Namdeb as its first engineering foreman in charge of an 18-person team.


Namdeb has yet again shattered another stereotype in its quest to be the pioneer in transforming its workforce through providing equal opportunities for all, and in particular addressing the issue of “true” gender advancement, which is in line with its affirmative action strategy.

Recently history was made when for the first time a female engineering foreman was substantively appointed to manage and lead an engineering workshop in Southern Coastal Mines (SCM).

Elizabeth Kambonde is a qualified auto electrician who has proven to possess both managerial and technical skills to lead an all-male team in an industry still dominated by men.

She is in charge of the heavy commercial vehicle workshop (W40) at Uubvley Engineering Complex and is responsible for a team of 18 people, comprising of artisans and artisan assistants.

They say that “dynamite comes in small packages”, and certainly Elizabeth has a small physique but she oozes energy and has power of influence. She commands respect amongst her team members and her peers speak highly about her leadership qualities, stated Pauline Thomas, the brand manager at Namdeb.

Hailing from northern Namibia, Elizabeth joined Namdeb way back on December 8, 2004 – which coincidentally is her birthday – equipped with an auto electrician trade qualification that she attained from Rundu Vocational Training College .

Upon joining the diamond firm, Kambonde worked at various Namdeb operations including Orange River Mines and Southern Coastal Mines.

Kambonde is quick to point out that she did not want to be appointed on the basis of her gender but she was committed to ensure that she was considered in that position based on the acquired knowledge and proven skills and leadership abilities.

“With all these aptitudes, you will command respect and trust from your peers and team. I believe this is an important recipe for true gender transformation.”

She is a taskmaster and her daily activities as an engineering foreman include planning and delegating work to artisans and checking work standards.

“I am a hands-on person and therefore I take time to be part of the weekly planning by our planners and organizers to ensure quality service delivery to our customers,” enthuses the engineering foreman.

She says that one of her passions is interacting with different people, adding that since moving into the new supervisory role she has now a better understanding of how the business operates. This, she says, makes her to appreciate Namdeb more.

Kambonde says her team has successfully put in place a planning system in the workshop and an interactive action centre that shows all the team’s targets and KPI’s.

Another achievement the team is proud of is related to good housekeeping.

“Our storeroom was identified as the neatest storeroom during an environmental audit and this is a proud safety achievement for the whole team.”

She believes in the importance of motivating each other and encouraging team members to take accountability to deliver quality jobs without any comebacks.

Her team prides itself on an improved control system. “I can further applaud my team for managing the availability of our critical equipment such as buses, dumpers, even though we face challenges on availability of lifting equipment in SCM.”

Other challenges include being under complement, but she works around this challenge by looking at critical work in the workshop and prioritizing accordingly.

As a word of advice to fellow women to ensure that women take up more technical or leadership positions, Kambonde says: “We should not have any fear, as many women role models have shown us that irrespective of your gender, as long as you are given the equal opportunity, you will succeed in delivering to expectations. We have had many women role models such as Meme Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, Ophelia Netta, Pauline Thomas, Wollen Nell and many others who have excelled in their leadership roles.”

As wife and mother, Elizabeth says that work-life balance is important.  “I just don’t take work home and vice-versa. Work is work and home is home,” she says.

She said she is grateful to Namdeb for giving women opportunities and in particular the SCM Leadership for affording her the rare opportunity to lead her team.

“Furthermore, I would like to thank W40 team for their support and teamwork in running the workshop. I am also indebted to my section engineer for mentoring and coaching me. I fully believe in the vision of this company and I am confident that if we all pull together without discrimination of gender, we will achieve our vision of being the pride of Namibia’s mining to 2050 and beyond.”





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