Consol Women in Glass - Part 1

Throughout August, South African glass manufacturer Consol Glass celebrated the women that take up the many different roles throughout the company. In this article we hear from some of them.

Juanita Farmer, Supervisor: Inspection & Packaging - Consol Glass, Bellville

Juanita Farmer found herself in the glass industry by pure chance and the moment she stepped into her role, she found the glassmaking process fascinating.

“Once you start working here, glass runs through your veins and Consol is an outstanding company to work for. I enjoy every minute of it and look forward to the challenges every new day holds,” says Ms Farmer.

Ms Farmer started at Consol Glass on a contract basis as a line attendant almost 20 years ago. After a year, she was promoted to line controller, specialising in baby food jars.

Having built extensive experience in this role over 15 years, Ms Farmer was promoted to shift supervisor in 2018, a position she still holds.

She believes that women bring a unique, dynamic aspect to the business. They are not only able to analyse and problem solve in difficult situations but are emotionally adept to empathise and bring “heart” to different scenarios.

She think that this helps to enhance understanding and cultivate open, nurturing relationships with peers across all levels at Consol.

Women are also experts at being proactive and multi-tasking, as they do this all the time within their day-to-day lives. This is a crucial skill within Consol and any other organisation.

She said: “As women in glass, there are so many more opportunities for us to prosper, empowering ourselves with more skills and knowledge.

“We have attributes such as curiosity and being courageous, that is why God handed women the task of bringing another life into this world. So don’t let anybody tell you differently. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.”

Ormie Motsapi, Specialist: Quality Assurance - Consol Glass, Clayville

Ormie Motsapi has been with Consol Glass for a total of 11 years and is currently a quality specialist, with a certification in Total Quality Management.

Before joining Consol Glass, Ms Motsapi had no experience or exposure to the glass industry. It was only when she applied for a position to assist with the C4 furnace that she became fascinated by the glass production process and has been hooked ever since.

She said: “I enjoy everything, starting from the cullet plant to the finished glass product that leaves our site. If you don’t know anything about the glassmaking process, you will think it is easy. But if you know how much it takes, you will appreciate what it takes to produce the perfect glass container.

“I enjoy every part of my job and the challenges that come with it,” shares Ms Motsapi.

She said she has benefited from various training opportunities, such as the Consol supervisory programme and fracture analysis training, to be equipped for the role that she currently holds.

She believes women should start empowering themselves by grasping opportunities to study further, rather than waiting to be pushed in that direction.

“We need to start challenging for managerial roles when they are advertised, even those that are typically believed to be for our male colleagues,” she added.

She encourages Consol to break the glass ceiling in the industry by introducing more women in senior management positions. “We have women who are capable, all they need is to be mentored and trained, and then given the opportunity,” concluded Ms Motsapi.

Priscilla Sifuma, Continuous Improvement Manager - Consol Glass, Kenya

Priscilla Sifuma believes women are organised and multifaceted, which enables them to manage multiple roles in the workplace.

“Women by their virtue are very warm natured. They are good trainers and excellent mentors, skills which help to build a highly motivated workforce that translates into overall improved productivity,” she said.

As the continuous improvement manager at Consol Glass Kenya, Ms Sifuma knows too well how challenging it can be to work with cross functional teams across the business to drive improvement opportunities.

In high school, Ms Sifuma excelled in her science-related subjects but, being from a humble background, she could not immediately afford to study further after school.

She started at the Kenya plant as a lab assistant in 1987 and used her salary to pay for her studies. She enrolled in a technical college where she studied Analytical Chemistry.

She later completed a Business Administration degree to develop her leadership abilities, setting her on a path to be part of the management team at the company’s East African plant.

Ms Sifuma said her love for chemistry drew her to the glass industry.

“The whole process of glass formation was just so fascinating for this young girl from the village who was passionate to succeed in life,” she explained.

She added: “I was happy to be part of the team that was researching raw material sources and suppliers long before our first production began. I enjoyed it so much that I decided this is what I want to do for a career.”

Ms Sifuma said that because the best things come in glass, the demand for glass packaging will continue, as will opportunities for advancement and new technology.

Women need to grow their leadership capability and develop self-confidence to thrive in a male dominated work environment.

Norel Landman, Retail Manager - Consol Glass, Head Office

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” This is a quote from Walt Disney that Norel Landman lives by, as she is passionate about everything she does, and absolutely loves a challenge.

Ms Landman has been part of Consol for almost seven years. With both a B Prim Ed teaching and B Com Marketing degree, she has been working in the FMCG industry for about 16 years before joining Consol.

Ms Landman found herself in the glass industry by chance and she explains that it is funny how little you know about an industry until you start living and breathing it.

“Who knew that glass could be so exciting with so many natural and environmentally friendly qualities and benefits,” she said.

As the Retail Manager for the company, Ms Landman successfully managed the two existing retail shops, launched a third shop in 2017 and recently introduced The Consol Online shop.

“The Retail division has grown from a marketing initiative to a fully-fledged profitable business within the broader Consol, while staying true to our original marketing objective of growing the glass brand,” shares Ms Landman.

She believes that women inherently have amazing qualities that add value to the business. Women are determined in getting the job done, are problem solvers daily, they are naturally curious - wanting to learn and know more - and they are passionate about what they do.

Most importantly they build authentic connections with those around them. She believes it is very important for women to find a way to make these qualities shine in their daily work life.

“Consol has allowed me to explore and grow as a woman in the glass industry but most importantly the company has given me the space to challenge myself every day to try and do the impossible,” adds Ms Landman.

Consol Women in Glass - Part 2