IT support specialist proves stereotypes are made to be smashed

IT support specialist proves stereotypes are made to be smashed
IT support specialist, Ntombezinhle Thela

Atlas Copco’s IT support specialist Ntombezinhle Thela is living proof that you can do anything you put your mind to and, achieve it with a huge dose of feminine flair while you’re at it.  Born and raised in humble Vryheid in KZN, the middle child amongst a sibling spread of three others, 31 year old Zinhle, as she is affectionately known by her colleagues, was always intrigued with computers from a young age and, decided to fulfil her curiosity by turning her interest into a career.

“It wasn’t easy growing up female, having the interests I did and, having spent much of my younger years in a small town synonymous for its coal mining and cattle farming.  Small town living comes with small town expectations however, I decided in my heart to follow my heart and, find out more about turning my interests in computers into a career in information technology (IT) regardless of the challenges I would face, particularly, as a woman.  My career pursuit has taught me that a woman can do well at a typically assumed ‘man’s job’.  Being a woman actually places you at an advantage given, our naturally inclined attention to detail and, care in doing a job with efficacy.  I am so thrilled that as of recently, we now have another woman on the team” she says.

Shortly after matriculating, Zinhle registered herself for a diploma at then PC Training.  She then moved to Johannesburg where she started out her career as an intern at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) for a period of six months in computing.  Whilst there in 2014, she spotted an advertisement online calling for IT applicants at Atlas Copco, sent through her CV and, was shortly snapped up by management following a competitive interview process amongst other hopefuls.  She has been happily working in the IT department since her initial application in December 2014.

When asked what her biggest learning at Atlas Copco has been thus far, Zinhle answers: “There is more than meets the eye when it comes to IT.  As professionals in industry, we’re often stereotyped as having no social skills though, my biggest learning since starting at Atlas Copco has been in dealing with customers on the service side and, the worth people possess – both in the individual person given all their quirks and, as working as part of a team as, Atlas Copco places considerable value on people and, in how we treat each other.  This is one of the reasons why I love working at the company, you’re never made to feel as simply another number even though, the business boasts a numerous staff component.”

Zinhle is naturally dispositioned to work well with numbers and analytics so, it only made better sense to her to choose computers versus her secondary option which was accounting.  “I cannot be more thrilled that I am working a happy job in my first career choice.  I’m even more satisfied for my role at Atlas Copco as it is a home within a home and, management not only generously invests in their staff but, push you to be better whilst helping you get there.    My seniors really have built my confidence as a professional and, have helped me to believe in myself,” she says.

When asked what her vision is for her sector in the near to come future, she says: “It’s 2020 and I still don’t see as much women gravitating towards careers that are dominated by men, such as IT.  I definitely have hopes for a more balanced gender spread in IT in the country.  This is why one of my life missions is to create learning and mentorship opportunities for young female children who come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.”

The sky really is the limit for Zinhle as she hopes to acquire a degree in IT in with specialisation in programming.

In her spare time, Zinhle enjoys hiking and a bit of baking on the side.  She is mother to a three year old son.