The ABB South Africa CFO is passionate about fostering safer spaces for women in the workplace.
With a passion for numbers and women empowerment, Lindie Koldas is staying focused, despite the current economic climate ,with steely resolve, and uplifting other women along the way.
Lindie juggles her role as CFO with a country role as order to cash business process owner for internal controls at ABB South Africa. It might sound like a tall order for some, but single mom of two Lindie is not one to shy away from a challenge. She also plans to tackle the Portuguese Camino, walking about 290km in around 17 days to celebrate her milestone 50th birthday.
She brings a similar resilience and grit to her role as local business area CFO – one she says is central in looking at what story the numbers are telling her. “My role is to tell the story in such a way as to inform, direct and guide business in order to make better decisions going forward and to continually improve processes in the operations in order to maximise profitability and growth,” she says.
As the roles of CFO and COO become increasingly interchangeable, Lindie remains agile and hands-on : “I am very involved in the day to day operational business discussions to understand and explain deviations in past financials results and to bring clarity on what steps to institute to improve future results,” she says.
She also brings this expertise as part of the management team, “I am also responsible together with my business managers for the business strategy and direction the motion and robotics businesses need to take.”
Her role as order to cash business process owner requires her to look at processes and the gaps in how people perform them to assess the financial risks created by the process gaps, or the incorrect or inconsistent application thereof. She relishes both her roles and the dynamism they bring to her career and her ability to solve problems.
For her, challenges are opportunities, “It really requires one not to dwell in comfort zones and be willing to think out of the box,” she explains.
But perhaps the role that Lindie is most passionate about is the one that sees her fostering safer spaces for women in the workplace – something she champions tirelessly at ABB by actively interviewing candidates in their graduate programmes and enabling a good male to female ratio.
Informal mentoring is also key: “I take the time to have energising discussions with female colleagues [in the workplace], creating encouragement, speaking of my own challenges as a mother, a career woman, and a human being with mental and emotional demands that need to be met in a healthy way,” she says.
Lindie has always had a passion for finance and despite a stint in Marketing and Psychology, she was drawn back to numbers – a joy she’s been accustomed to from a young age. As a little girl, she was put in charge of the petty cash box on her grandmother’s farm that was used for selling goods to the locals. “It gave me the greatest satisfaction bringing in the sales, making lists of the money coming in and adding up the totals over and over again. It was clear then already that my passion was in numbers and the story they tell,” she explains.
Fast forward to that little girl turning 25 and joining ABB in Bloemfontein followed closely by five years in the Nigeria office – culminating in a journey with ABB now spanning close to 25 years. She continues to make an impact in her industry.
Lindie remains determined to innovate and succeed. “With globalisation and lower barriers of entry making it very easy for competition to step in, we have to continuously be on our toes to ensure we deliver and stay ahead of the game. Ultimately, you have one goal and that is to keep the customer happy on price, delivery time, quality and after-sales support,” she says.
With empowering women being so close to her heart, she leads by example and lends an ear to those who need her counsel about navigating a male-dominated industry. She encourages them that having a career and a family is possible with the right support system. She also believes one can have the best of both worlds by making work-life balance key.
“I am not blind to the work that still needs to be done for every female to experience and believe this,” she says. “We still have a strong patriarchal society in South Africa and it reflects strongly in the working environment, however the leaders of ABB are highly committed and passionate to ensure the change is driven internally,” she explains.
Lindie says ABB’s senior leaders have identified diversity and inclusivity as a key focus area. ABB has global initiatives that support employee training in everything from sexual harassment to interrupting unconscious bias as an intentional effort to create safer experiences for women.
“I am part of a group of senior female leaders that schedule coffee chats with a random selection of female employees in the organisation across all demographics and levels, where we discuss anything from challenges in the workplace to home remedies for children’s ailments,” she says.
While she, as a garagiste winemaker, may have a keen interest in anything made the old traditional way, at a slow pace – like baking bread, growing your own food or restoring antique furniture – there is nothing sluggish about Lindie Koldas’s purpose-driven career ascent and advocacy for women.