As a member of the small core team that plans the direction of Jwaneng mine – producer of the world’s best diamonds by grade – Khumo Nnyenyiwa is without doubt among the privileged few that shape history. She relishes every moment of it. Just a week after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, Khumo Nnyenyiwa nee Mothulatshipi started working for Debswana as a learner official in the engineering department. With her studies having been sponsored by Debswana it was contractual that her first work place upon qualifying would be the company. Needless to say this was not an issue because she had looked forward to it. She is passionate about her job. “I like and enjoy my job so much, more so that I have strong support from Debswana management” she says.
In fact Nnyenyiwa is of the view that despite the fact that the mining industry is male dominated; women too can carve a niche for themselves in the sector and grab the many opportunities available. She is grateful of the strong support she has got from the Jwaneng mine management. She quickly worked herself up the ladder to the position of Senior Mining Engineer. At this level she was at first responsible for all drilling and blasting activities. Nnyenyiwa has now been redeployed to Senior Mining Engineer long-term planning. Under this position she basically plans the direction of Jwaneng mine as a whole; that is what to mine and how. The 31-year-old explains that her job is all about discipline and the ability to know when and how to do certain things. “It also requires one to work long hours, physical engagements and emotional intelligence,” says Nnyenyiwa.
All this, she says, has led her to learn to prioritise things in her life though it’s not easy. “I try as much as I can to juggle stuff around in order to balance between work and private life, I try,” she enthuses. The good thing though, she says, is that she is passionate about her work and has a very supportive husband who happens to be also working in the mining sector. She has recently graduated with a Masters’ of Science Degree in Mining Engineering, all thanks to her husband who motivated and pushed her even when she was about to give up. She also holds a postgraduate certificate in Enterprise risk management from Botswana Accountancy College. “At times it was a bit too much for me, being a student, a miner and a wife, but my husband encouraged me to preserve,” she says.
Being a firm believer in giving back to the community and assisting others, Nnyenyiwa is also a member of an all-ladies society called Divas Emporium which has taken a decision to mentor girl children from Morama Junior Secondary School in Jwaneng on social skills whilst emphasising the importance of education. Apart from offering the girls Maths and Science tutorials, they mentor them on on social skills whilst emphasising the importance of education and the value of perseverance in life. “We decided that rather than giving them hand-outs we will instead give them hands up,” she says. Nnyenyiwa is a God fearing Christian and visits her place of worship the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) whenever she can. She is the second of four children, and has a twin brother who is an estate agent.