The Bosch Rexroth South Africa Group of Companies is Africa’s largest fluid power and automation company, and the leader in the design, manufacture, installation, service and repair for total mobile and industrial hydraulic solutions.
The Group is also committed to social investment and the advancement of all its employees, breaking down barriers to create a diverse and dynamic workplace.
Louise Kleingeld, Branch Manager: Hytec Rustenburg
Kleingeld’s career trajectory from receptionist to branch manager is defined by her tenacity. “I got very frustrated with myself because I could not attend to the customers’ technical requirements and found the mining environment so interesting that I just had to know more,” she says. Becoming the Branch Manager for Hytec Rustenburg and empowering 32 employees, is a career highlight. “It’s empowering, being noticed as a candidate who could advance into more senior positions within the Group”.
While hydraulics and mining were traditionally viewed as male occupations, times have changed. “I know that women look at hydraulics differently. Men and women are now seen as equals and are given the same opportunities to pursue a career in this field,” she comments. She adds that women bring something special to hydraulics. “We always want to make things look better and work more efficiently. We give attention to the finer details”.
Establishing herself as an authority in the hydraulics profession did not come without its fair share of challenges. Kleingeld describes how customers initially did not trust her. “I kept on working as I hard as I could until I gained their trust and respect. With the help of training courses, I learned to be assertive and to listen, especially. This helped me gain the confidence I needed to make this venture a success. If you have confidence in your product and in your solutions, nothing can stand in your way”.
“Always follow your passion, no matter what. Make a difference,” Kleingeld urges her colleagues. She points to Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo Platinum, as her inspiration. “She is fierce, does not stand down for anyone, and had the passion to pursue her career”.
Kleingeld looks forward to Bosch Rexroth SA’s new ventures, and the many new ways that the company can do business and provide exceptional service to its customers, all while creating partnerships with customers.
Leyla Retief, Project Engineer: Hytec South Africa
Retief was always drawn to mathematics and science, which enable our understanding of how things work. Mechanical Engineering was the obvious field of study and once qualified, Retief pursued a role in the hydraulics sector. “My role as a Project Engineer at Hytec SA, the specialist hydraulics company within the Bosch Rexroth SA Group, was the starting point to my career. I think that in itself is a great achievement,” she says.
She is inspired by women with strong leadership skills who have managed to climb the ranks to achieve their goals, even when there was a lack in support systems for female leadership. “I think for a long time, women felt intimidated by the prospect of stepping into male dominant environments. To overcome this barrier, women need to have confidence in their abilities, and a strong will to succeed in the field,” she comments. “The biggest challenge faced by women is the stigma that they need to prove themselves in these environments. I believe the best way that to overcome this is by focusing on teamwork and open communication”. She encourages her young peers to pursue their dreams, no matter how difficult the path may seem.
While Retief is still relatively new to the field of hydraulics, she constantly seeks to learn about new applications and designs, developing her knowledge. “Anyone can make a great hydraulic specialist by paying special attention to detail and focusing on the bigger picture. If we continue to give women chances, they will excel in any field that they are passionate about,” she concludes.
Michelle Bruwer, Branch Manager: Hytec Mogalakwena
Bruwer began her hydraulics career when she joined Hytec in 2016. “Where I am today is my greatest professional achievement. The only way to do great work is to love what you do,” she comments.
Bruwer notes that misconceptions about the hydraulics industry may have played a role in making it a male-dominated sector. In addition, hydraulics careers were not deemed socially acceptable for women. “I think that this has changed over the past few years. Women are being empowered by other women, and changing mindsets about what women are capable of doing,” she says. By working hard to prove themselves, women can overcome the challenges faced when they were undermined.
Bruwer believes that women make a unique contribution to hydraulics. “I think women tend to be more detail-oriented and we adapt better to change. We possess the skills to unite people, and draw together fresh opinions and creative proposals. These optimise the decision-making process. Women can introduce new methods or new approaches that have not yet been explored”.
Noting that change is driven by technology, innovations, better processes, social demands and even new opportunities, Bruwer takes inspiration from Hannover Messe, and its 2022 slogan: “let’s create the industry of tomorrow”.
Kleingeld, Retief and Bruwer demonstrate a commitment to professional excellence, the pursuit of partnerships and a drive to make the Bosch Rexroth South Africa Group of Companies Africa’s leading fluid power and automation company.