Nhlanhla Maphalala epitomises a new generation of leaders in South Africa. Intelligent, ethical, successful, driven and compassionate, his reputation as one of the engineering industry’s most innovative young entrepreneurs has solid foundations in more than a decade of experience in the demanding petrochemical and nuclear technology industries. As a respected, ambitious and highly qualified electrical engineer, he has worked his way across a number of multinational companies, gaining invaluable experience and interdisciplinary skills that include strategic and project management, financial management, marketing, and asset and technology management. Seeing each role as an opportunity to learn and excel, Nhlanhla’s particular expertise has been developed and tested in a range of environments, where he has held several strategic management positions. Not only has each position strengthened hisleadership skills, Nhlanhla has also developed finely honed diplomatic, interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. These have evolved through continuous interfacing with suppliers, contractors and international companies. In particular, managing a complex multi-disciplinary R500 million waste recycling project during his time at Sasol provided unparalleled opportunities for professional growth; which in turn enabled him to go on to play a key leadership and managerial role in the development of new nuclear technologies while working for PBMR. As testament to his professional and interpersonal abilities, Nhlanhla received international exposure early on in his career. Sasol sent him to Brazil and New York where, as the youngest senior engineering ambassador, he took the complex factory testing in his stride, exceeding the company’s expectations at all levels. He played a similar role at PBMR, when he travelled on fact finding missions in Germany, China, South Korea, Vienna, the United States of America and many other countries, interfacing with multinationals and managing complex, multi-stakeholder international collaborations. This global experience has enabled him to fearlessly tackle his recent role as vice-president of Strategic Accounts at ABB, where he worked with companies in over 100 countries. During his time with ABB he also developed into a passionate supporter of South African localisation; a passion that in part inspired him to start his own business called ISIVUVU Technical Solutions where he provides consulting services in engineering, strategy and business optimisation in South Africa. Realising that personal and profession growth entail more than just material successes; Nhlanhla remains well-grounded and grateful for his opportunities. That’s why in 2003 he founded a non-profit organisation called Bergville Community Builders, which serves 32 high schools in the Bergville and surrounding areas. The organisation helps grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 learners by broadening their horizons and enhancing their ability to make informed choices about their tertiary career options, including how to access tertiary funding. This commitment to helping young people realise their potential is complemented by Nhlanhla’s interest in employment equity, continuous learning and development and the people that are the heart of any successful organisation. He has played an active role in public life; from his student days; right through his period as lead engineer on various projects, mentoring young engineers and participating on number of professional platforms. Being as committed to innovation as he is to excellence, Nhlanhla is inspired by South Africa’s engineering capabilities. Through ISIVUVU Technical Solutions, he is excited to be part of an industry that is waking up to its true potential. A desire to fully utilize his skills and experience to drive development through technology remains his fundamental goal.
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