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Trading a career in medicine for leadership development

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After saying goodbye to a career in medicine a week ago, Sindiswa Maponya has her attention firmly fixed on a future in the international arena. For no other reason than living out her passion for leadership development and aspiring to guide potential leaders to reach their worth.
On the eve of Women’s Month this medical doctor stepped down as General Manager at the Department of Health to start her own venture that is aimed at propelling her into a global realm.
In an interview that is somewhat of a symbolic closure on almost 11 years in the echelons of the department she talks of challenges and highlights alike. Seven of those years were spent in executive management. Having managed eight divisions within the departmental structure until her departure last Thursday, she evidently had more than the normal share of headaches with regards to crisis management, implementation of workable solutions and strategic planning.
Her last job description charged her with the responsibilities of managing the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and its associated training college, Pharmaceutical Services, Oral Health, Malaria Services, Health Technology, Forensic Pathological Services and Allied Health.
She mentions a facelift aimed at improving existing infrastructure and the attitude of staff in order to improve service delivery increasing the baseline of Registrar appointments at the institution from 29 to 59 within a period of two years while still serving as General Manager of the then Polokwane/Mankweng Hospital Complex, in addition to the acquisition of a fleet of 100 ambulances to be posted at stations across the province and the future switch to a digital communications and monitoring system to up reaction time in response to emergency calls in the next financial year.
But her time at the department was not only characterised by gloom. There were memorable moments when the sun broke through the clouds and challenges were turned into achievements, as was the case of the turnaround in drug stock outs through engagement with service providers, weekly reports, beefing up bid evaluation committee activities and the introduction of direct procurement.
Maponya raises the opinion that leadership is an art. She regards it as crucial and gives a lot of credit to the Head of Department and respective MECs she worked with. “It doesn’t come easy. You have to acknowledge that you must improve and allow others to make inroads in your life.” She stresses that she sees a lot of potential in others, “probably because I had good people who saw potential in me”. She reckons that having personal and career coaches assists her to achieve in life. Now it is time for her to give back to others by motivating women to hone their leadership skills and see them remaining strong as they fill up chairs in boardrooms without losing their femininity, Maponya indicates.
Throughout Maponya remains vocal on following her heart in future and taking her passion for leadership coaching to a global scale in a professional capacity as well as a Pastor. Joined by her family she is attached to the Royal Cathedral International Church in Polokwane. It is her vision, she explains, to make impact in other’s lives by assisting them to achieve their set goals and address their challenges. Already she has a few motivational speeches lined up for Women’s month and will be engaged in a big conference for women in Gauteng in October.
Despite having her mind set on working abroad, she will still regard Limpopo home for it is where her heart is. The mother of four, varying between 3 and 27 years, indicates that she could not have achieved her career objectives without the support of her understanding husband, Andy, and her family.
She concludes with the profound message to the women of the country that they should join hands to make South Africa a better place.

Story: YOLANDE NEL
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