Exxaro Principal Industrial Engineer stands her ground

Malathee Padayachy, Exxaro’s Principal Industrial Engineer, entered the industry at a very young age and learned to stand her ground in order to reach new heights.


She is proud of her position and excels in her role of improving and optimising processes, systems and mentoring and coaching junior engineers.


However, since she was a junior at the company, she realised that she needed to stand her ground to make a name for herself in the industry.


“I can remember when I started out being asked to take minutes at meetings. Even though I was junior – I realised I needed to stand my ground earlier o‌n. So, I agreed to assist, provided that the task would be rotated and included my male colleagues,” she said.


Padayachy believes in taking an integrated approach to solving problems. She is inspired by Dr Judy Dlamini’s book Equal but Different and says there are pockets of good and bad that are not industry specific. “Diversity in all fo‌rms, be it gender, youth, language, race, etc., does result in resistance at times which o‌ne needs to overcome.”


Looking to the future, Padayachy says industrial engineers at Exxaro play a critical role in the digital future of the company.


“Part of my job involves supporting decision-making. Data is becoming a strategic asset and those able to understand data and derive insights from it will become valuable resources. In addition to this, industrial engineers have the ability to apply a systemic view and understand system complexity. We are currently enhancing our skillset to include data science to support this digital future.”