Standing tall in the male dominated industry is not at all a piece of cake! But there are some very bold and inspiring women out there proving every assumption wrong and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with men in their industry. Meet one such courageous woman, Pam du Plessis, who is inspiring all the women folk out there showing courage to prove themselves in the male dominated industry.
Pam is working as a Managing Director at Invincible Valves, a medium sized enterprise located in Knights, Germiston. The company offers a full range of low pressure valves, reconditioning service and an in-house rubber lining service for valves, pipes, fittings, and vessels which is utilized by many of the country’s major valve manufacturers.
About the Diva
Pam completed school in 1988, after which she received a first class pass and Diploma in Financial Accounting. Initially, Pam followed her accounting background into the IT world of Accounting Software Accpac. She was working as a support consultant to support the software for accounting users, writing print specifications and assisting with regular monthly processes. Later on, Pam went on to work within a healthcare facility, where she was the admin manager, again bringing her accounting knowledge and experience to rather run a hospital as a business.
“It was by chance that I started working at Invincible Valves, as I had entered the business as a contractor to write a couple of Accpac Crystal reports and then never left,” says Pam, adding, “I never chose this industry, instead it chose me! At a very early stage it sucked me in and has never let me go! After a month of contracting, I was offered a position, which I accepted as I really felt connected to the business. Within 3 months, I bought my first shares in the business and within a year, I knew that I wanted to run the business. Seven years later that became a reality. I have an absolute passion about understanding this industry, the mechanics of valves and the operation thereof.”
Pam has observed that since she entered this space, there has been a significant change in the way women are perceived in more senior positions. There is a younger generation entering the senior space which is incredibly significant to the longevity of the industry. Pam feels that all that is missing is an influx of young, enthusiastic artisans and engineers, male and female.
Pam’s Challenging Role at Invincible Valves
Invincible Valves was already a well established business at the time Pam took over the company, therefore the challenges were endless for her. The most important factor was this is a male dominant industry in South Africa, so it was a “culture” shock to be addressed by a woman.
Pam asserts, “It is also a very aged industry, which meant that I didn’t fit into the “old school” boys club, so very often I was ousted in certain circles, which was difficult as I was keen to learn from them. These, after all, are the guys who established business back in the 80’s and with the movement of technology and business in general, it made it difficult to make your mark without upsetting them.”
Instead of getting scared of the challenges, Pam always felt that these challenges were in fact opportunities to learn and make her mark. She says, “I guess my motivation would be because I am stubborn and therefore the more I was told that I cannot do that, the more I wanted to prove that I could. Ultimately, it has worked for me and made me a well rounded individual with a higher emotional intelligence.”
Invincible Valves, “One Stop Shop” for All Your Valve and Controls Requirements
Established in 1982 as a Valve Reconditioning & Rubber Lining business, Invincible Valves has grown from strength to strength and is now one of the top valve distributors, reconditioners and rubber liners in the South African market. It has a wide range of new valves that it distributes globally. As the Managing Director of Invincible Valves Pam works on the business, that enables her to focus on the strategy and results rather than the day to day issues. The company has team leaders in strategic places within the business who reports directly to Pam for guidance on daily issues. The company has a clear code and the business runs to it like a well oiled machine.
South Africa is currently facing a Mining Crisis, which includes the new Mining Charter. Invincible Valves has since diversified the business and shifted its main focus from the Mining sector. The company has managed to infiltrate a number of new industries, which include paper & pulp, fisheries, power generation and many more. This diversification has worked well for Invincible Valves as it has well established and has a regular flow of stock, therefore giving it an opportunity to service multiple industries without delay.
Work Life Balance
It was not easy in the beginning to keep personal and professional life balance for Pam, but eventually, she learned to manage her time and to be sure to have a personal life outside of Invincible Valves. “It’s really a simple thing, you need to commit to both business and personal time,” says Pam. Currently, Pam is busy writing two books, one being a training manual for Basic Business Skills and the other being her Biography.
Pam advises the young women – Be bold, don’t be afraid. It may be daunting, but don’t allow that to deter you in any way. Instead, educate yourself, learn from anyone and everyone. Follow your heart and do what you believe to be best, if you are passionate about something you need to action it. I found that my passion for this business erases anything remotely negative in my life, my passion is to touch peoples lives and add value to their existence, to educate them and to be a support structure and this in turn has done exactly that for me.