Challenges motivate SRL’s Zonra Zietsman

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She is a weightlifter and a former powerlifter, but says she is often a firefighter at work as well!

Zonra Zietsman is a woman who thrives on challenges in her personal and professional life.

Before Covid-19 hit, she was selected to represent South Africa in the Masters World Powerlifting Championships in April 2020.

The event was cancelled due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, but in the meantime her interest shifted to another form of lifting. She switched to weightlifting and says for her it is more about the mental challenge to teach your brain to bring the weight up (above your head) while squatting down at the same time.

Since she works in such a fast-paced and high-demand environment, weightlifting provides the necessary release. “Weightlifting offers me a great break from work, as it directs my focus to the present. When you are lifting, you can only think of the correct technique. If you are not focusing, you can get hurt,” she says.

Challenges motivate her, says Zonra, who is celebrating five years at Sedibelo this year. Sedibelo Resources is a Guernsey company with assets in South Africa that produce platinum group metals.

“It is also important for me to make a difference and to add value to the team,” adds Zonra.

Career trajectory
Her career started off with articles at PwC, and while at PwC, she was seconded to both the US and the Netherlands, but wanted to bring that knowledge back to South Africa.

“I’m sure everyone who starts their articles knows to a certain extent that they will either stay with the firm or move into finance,” she says. “I did 10 years at PwC, and then moved into commerce at another platinum mining group, Atlatsa Resources. Now I guess I can call myself a miner, but at the corporate office.”

Her job is still exciting, says Zonra, and every day is different from the previous one. “Many days I call myself a firefighter, and most days I run into the biggest fire to see what can be sorted out!”

As the group FM, she oversees the finance department, but also spent a significant part of 2021 as the acting FM on the mine, to understand what challenges and issues are experienced on a day-to-day level.

“I get involved in either new projects, or where the fireball is – we have several corporate activities ongoing either at our local South African companies or our international holding company. The newest project is the implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.”

She has learnt a lot from Sedibelo’s CFO Elmarie Maritz, but the most valuable lesson that Elmarie taught her, is that their work will never be finished, but one must draw the line to end the day and decide to go home.

Zonra believes that the most important thing in professional life is the ability to change direction and never be afraid to ask for help. Her favourite motto is if you see a light in a tunnel, just be sure it’s not a train!

Her future goals are to make time available to go and explore the world. “Pre-Covid, I spent three weeks in the Pacific Northwest in the US. I travelled from Vancouver to San Francisco, and now that we can travel again, I cannot wait to plan another big travel experience,” she says.

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