ESG - Environmental Social Governance

Female Engineering: Under Pressure

An expert in overcoming obstacles, Pauline Wingrove-Botha has made an art of rising to the occasion.

For KLINGER South Africa’s Business Unit Manager Pauline ­Wingrove-­Botha, family played a pivotal role in her career trajectory. “I was always a woman in a man’s world, influenced by my father,” she explains. As an employee of DeBeers, her father moved the family from Namibia, to Botswana, to Cape Town, as he carried out his duties in the mining industry. This family history makes for apt foreshadowing, since diamonds are a worthy metaphor for Pauline’s career success: when faced with intense pressure, her tenacity helps her to shine.

Pushing for growth

With a keen interest in industry sparked by her childhood, Pauline began her career in the automotive sector in Nelspruit. Though her initial duties were administrative, she soon pushed for more involvement in the workshop to hone her technical expertise. As her skills and reputation grew, she attracted the attention of KLINGER, and was invited for an interview. The branch that hired her consisted of a tiny building with only a few shelves, but Pauline was determined to change that: “I was hungry to know what KLINGER was about, and soon we started growing.” A year later, she joined sales in the field, helping them to bring on increasingly larger customers and jobs. Soon her branch grew from two to six staffers, with the team earning multi-year contracts from several big names in the industry. They’ve moved premises three times in five years, and are now expanding their current location threefold.

Contacts mentioned in the article:

Pauline Wingrove-Botha, Business Unit Manager at KLINGER South Africa

Phillip Herbst, Managing Director of KLINGER South Africa

A mentor and a plan

When asked about her career role models, Pauline enthuses about her boss, Phillip Herbst, Managing Director of KLINGER South Africa: “He’s not only a boss, he’s a leader. He empowers people to want to succeed.” Eager to grow both her career and her branch, Pauline thrives on challenge. Being pushed to continuously achieve more brings out her competitive nature, which in turn fuels her long-term planning.

“If you don’t have a vision, and you don’t have a goal, what are you working toward? We all have our visions and our missions and our goals, and we’re going to accomplish them – whether it takes a year, whether it takes six months, we’re going to get there.”

With her helmet on, Pauline Wingrove-Botha is not just breaking barriers but also redefining leadership.

Goals and motivation are only part of the equation, though, and grace under pressure is another large part. Even a short conversation with Pauline demonstrates her unflappable nature. With her branch undergoing expansion and her local power grid experiencing intermittent outages, she juggles overlapping crises with cheerful competence. Despite the chaos of blackouts and the mess of construction swirling behind her, she laughs off the stress and carries on, undaunted.

The keys to success

When asked about the most important factors in her success, Pauline responds instantly:

“Perseverance is key. You’ve got to persevere and remain curious. I’ve got such a passion for KLINGER, and I’m passionately curious.”

Pauline, in her PPE, embodies the spirit of KLINGER – hands-on, dedicated, and unafraid to get her hands dirty in a world that often underestimates her.

This persistent drive to keep attaining knowledge has served her well, taking her from an admin role to a management role in only a few short years. Despite this rapid advancement and spending her entire career in male-dominated industries, she admits that she still has to overcome assumptions. “That’s probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to face,” she says. Some people still see her only as the woman who answers the phone, while others assume from her stylish appearance that she is unwilling to get dirty when the job calls for it. When that happens, she relishes the opportunity to prove them wrong. Suiting up in her PPE and getting fully hands-on with the products never fails to earn respect.

So, what does Pauline recommend to other women in industry? Her advice hearkens back to her knack for perseverance: “Harden up. It is a seriously, seriously tough world out there.” Much like the diamonds that began her journey, Pauline is thriving under pressure.

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