Age: 29. Logistics Superintendent, South 32 Mine, Northern Cape Province, South Africa
“Hard work and effort go a long way, you cannot reach your goals without this.”
A career that started for Obakeng Baks Morakile as a graduate geologist has not confined her to the role of a geologist. She has proven to be a leader in her field and has moved up the corporate ladder holding numerous key positions in her organization. Read our interview with this promising young leader below.
1. How did you get into the mining industry?
I grew up in a mining town and when I was in high school I was part of a program ran by Anglo platinum where they offered additional Maths and Science lessons to high school students. As part of the program, we were required to identify a career in mining to pursue as Anglo was offering bursaries for mining study. It is there that I learnt about Geology and that is what I pursued.
2. What role do you play on the mine?
I am appointed as the Logistics Superintendent at a South32 mine in the Northern Cape Province, South Africa. I am responsible for the stockpile management at the processing plants as well as the dispatch of final product from the mine to domestic and export customers. My role is to ensure that product goes out of the mine at the correct quality and tonnage at the required time.
3. What obstacles did you experience during your studies?
University is quite a big step from high school. In high school I found it easy to maintain my distinctions but University study requires so much more effort. The work load and time requirements for the BSc modules was strenuous and that is what I struggled with most. I was also on a bursary and there was always pressure as a failure meant that I could lose my funding.
4. Who do you give credit to for your career success?
Honestly, some of my achievements seemed to be miracles and I believe that I wouldn’t be where I am if not for the Lord’s mercy and favour and it is He who I look to and thank for my achievements.
My family, friends and colleagues also contributed much to my success as no man is an island and their constant support, guidance and advice went a long way to making me who I am today.
5. Mining is not for the faint hearted, how do you manage your enthusiasm in order to stay on top in your field?
The only thing I do to keep my enthusiasm is to learn from my failures and try again as I can only get better from there. Mining doesn’t really require you to have a thick skin, you just need to be able to dust yourself off and get back on your feet, and this time trying harder than before now that you know what knocked you down.
6. Most accomplished people believe in the power of routine, have you got any routine you follow diligently?
I honestly don’t like routine, though I need to have it because of my work requirements. What I would call my routine is starting the day of earlier than most so I can do a little preparation for the day. I then make sure to spend time with some of my team or in their working area to show support. The last thing I do is to make sure I watch at least one cartoon show after work. Cartoons seem to help me switch my focus from work to relaxation.
7. What is your top 5 advice for the youth aspiring to be future geologists?
I only have three bits of advice
• Follow your passion, if Geology is your passion, take the time to learn what it is about Geology that you like. By doing this you will not be attached to a field or a career or a job, you will aim for that thing that makes that particular career enticing to you and that will keep you inspired to succeed.
• Don’t give up on yourself, keep searching for sunshine in the midst of the storm.
• Hard work and effort go a long way- you cannot reach your goals without this.
8. Any top 3 books that you have read that have changed your perspective on life and career?
To be honest, I am not much of a social reader, much of my reading is academic and because of that, I draw my inspiration from conversations with others and theirs or my experience.
9. Finally, What do you love most about your job?
I love that I get the opportunity to interact with numerous stakeholders as I provide support to multiple plants and customers. And that provides me with a different challenge and something new to learn every day.