By: Donsy Kunene and Zama Shange

In a world that rewards mediocrity and approximation, UniQ Magazine SA admires the calibre of women that the country is incessantly breeding. The motive behind our admiration is that the reports and research attest to the Women Leaders in businesses being the best, as opposed to their male counterparts. Even though the sluggish transformation in women empowerment has been demonstrated, there are particular hurdles that can make the journey mounting toward positions of power and influence in myriad spheres.

It has been 61 years since the women’s march which gave birth to the women’s month commemorations. Women’s month must start looking at the elevation of the importance of ensuring more women are in key leadership and decision-making positions. It has been noticed this year that the country is encouraging and endorsing “transformation” in every aspect of life, business and politics but less has been said on gender transformation within male dominated businesses and positions.

Today we are looking at the motor retail industry in South Africa regarding transformation and gender. The revelation is that women are capable and can perform better within the male dominated industry. Thanks to the ambitious, brave and extraordinary woman Marcia Noxolo Mayaba who forged her way up in an effort to break barriers in the motor retail industry.

Confronting the probabilities

A renowned and passionate woman of note who taught herself car driving at an early age, Marcia hails from Orlando East in Soweto where she was raised by a single mother. As the first born, she became a parent and a provider to her two younger sisters by default. Her Mother’s death forced her to drop out of University where she was doing 2nd year BA Law. She joined the job market when she was only 21 years, since then she has been part of the motor dealership industry until today.

Mayaba never dreamt of the car industry as her life time career, but by default she found herself building her life around cars.

“Yes, I grew up fascinated by cars because we did not have one at home but never thought I would have a career centred on cars. It was pure coincidence. The motor industry gave me a break after my mother passed away. Once I was in it, I knew I was going to stay in it for the longest time.”

Mayaba is the first ever Black Female Dealer Principal for the giant motor businesses Volkswagen/Audi SA, Imperial Auto and Lindsay Saker in the country. She has been in the industry for 20 years now where she started as an intern at Avis Truck Rental (Barloworld) with no experience or employment history doing anything and everything she was asked to do. Her observable passion towards cars advanced her into climbing the ladder, holding copious top positions in different motor dealerships.

She earned her stripes in the motor industry, a female who went beyond understanding the operational side of motor retail but also has experience in truck and car rental, logistics and fleet management.

Life as a female motor dealer Principal

The motor industry is male dominated and still clouded by a patriarchal system and masculinity which did not scare Mayaba away from being part of the industry. She says it was not a walk in the park but it had its own challenges.

“As a female in the motor industry, one has to literally “fight” for one’s seat at the main table. It’s also an inspiration because one pushes oneself and proves that the female potential is there and it is a force to be reckoned with and cannot be ignored”.

Asked what would be her contribution to the transformation of the motor retail industry, without hesitation she quickly quoted her own motto “To make things better than I found them”. She further said she is passionate about creating an awareness and creating opportunities to attract young black females.

“When people talk about the motor industry, it is limited to Sales. But there are so much more operational elements in a dealership where women can make a positive contribution and be successful. There is a huge need for female technicians and service and parts managers. In fact, the management level is where the biggest gap is”.

She further said her focus is to attract, train and develop women to ensure a pipeline of talent in the motor industry. Not limited to employment only, but to include the possibility of ownership should there be an entrepreneurial desire. With transformation comes the element of progressive change in terms of employment at the key levels and management.  

Mayaba’s wish is to remain in the motor industry and to acquire her own dealership one day, where she will condemn the coldness that is demonstrated by male counterparts in the workplace. She further laments: – “There is not a single black female owner of a dealership in SA.  This I cannot comprehend.”

“I am a firm believer in PEOPLE, not only of my team but ALL the stakeholders. As a Leader, it is always important and wise to surround yourself with people who make you live your dream. It does not matter what level of operation they occupy, if it’s the cleaner, make them feel that they form an integral part of the dream. It is important to look after people. Over the years, I have also realised that it is awesome to be looked after too. Recognition and Reward goes a long way. I have tried and tested this over and over again, over the years, you never lose”.

Outside work Mayaba describes herself as an individual who loves life, she laughs and believes that HAPPINESS is the key. She is an entertainer at home, skydiver, a children’s charities giver. “My life is colourful, shared among family and friends. I dearly love my supportive Partner – we love travelling to local and overseas holidays. Plenty of life founded on my mantra – I work hard and play hard.

On our spring issue (September) look out for contacts and her accolades since she joined motor retail industry for your (reader) inspiration.