Cynthia Mfolo

Health & Safety Manager at Gothic Construction

1. Tell us about your business or role.
I’m currently appointed as an acting health and safety manager in my company.

2. Can you share a few of the most memorable achievements in your career?
I was a nominee in the Health & Safety Officer of the Year category by the MBA North Regional Health & Safety Competition in 2012 and awarded a certificate in recognition of health and safety performances on the Gothic Construction/GD Irons Joint Venture at Houghton Golf Estates. Being appointed the Best Performing Health & Safety Officer of the Year ( Gothic Construction Staff Awards) from 2017 to 2020.

3. How do you stay motivated? How do you keep your team motivated?
My work can be challenging so I always make it my goal to learn new things and encourage myself to think positively. I’ve created a good working relationship with my team. I am available to address any issues even if they are not work related. Clear and frequent communication is always the key no matter how sensitive the issue might be. I always make all my team members feel valued. For example, if they or their family members are sick, or something happens I make it my mission to keep on checking them.

4. What advice would you give to other women considering the construction industry as a career choice?
Ask questions, be yourself and be confident with your knowledge and skills. Don’t be afraid to speak out.

5. What has been the hardest part of your journey and what got you through it?
When I first started in this company 10 years ago as a safety officer it wasn’t easy. Being a woman, with a health and safety background in a male dominated industry/company. The hardest part was to get my male colleagues to understand that I’m not an enemy. I fluently speak 10 of out 11 official languages, I used my knowledge of these languages to get my colleagues on my side. I remember when presenting toolbox talks or inductions I would make sure that each line I read in English, I would interpret in 5 or 6 languages whilst making jokes. I must say this did help me to warm my way into the hearts of all my fellow colleagues.

6. How, if at all, has Covid impacted your course? What advice would you give to other businesswomen in a similar situation?
As a result of Covid-19, the construction industry has been forced to adapt to significant challenges and formulate solutions to mitigate delays and other impacts caused by Covid-19. The impacts of Covid-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their gender. I would advise other women to make sure that their workplace guidelines are in place, and they must maintain their records of impacts. Lasty, target women and girls in all efforts to address the socio-economic impact of Covid-19.

7. What would you tell your 21-year-old-self?
Be kind to yourself. Believe in yourself. No responsibility is beneath you. Pushing yourself out if your comfort zone maybe painful but the benefits are everlasting.

Cynthia Mfolo