Women's Month Interview

#WomensMonth: Chantelle Mashego challenges gender diversity in the automotive industry

Chantelle Mashego, a senior manager responsible for delivering the locally produced Nissan Navara has been at Nissan for 11 years and understands the complexities of building a vehicle.
Chantelle Mashego, NSA Senior Manager: New Model Engineering at Nissan South Africa
Chantelle Mashego, NSA Senior Manager: New Model Engineering at Nissan South Africa

“I’ve worked hard to grow through the ranks from a contracted engineer to holding roles in vehicle quality, parts quality and more. In that time, I’ve also held international roles including a stint at Nissan Spain, returning to South Africa with new skills and experience,” says Mashego.

This women of steel shares her journey with us...

How is Nissan encouraging diversity in the automotive industry?

Nissan South Africa focuses on increasing female representation in all levels of management and providing training to ensure that top candidates will be ready to take on greater responsibility. Support is provided for women’s career development.

When I joined the company in 2008, there were not more than four women in engineering and now we have more about 35% – but there is still some room to grow especially in Monozukuri where now women are earmarked for key positions.

Are South African women getting enough of a chance to shine in the automotive industry?

Yes, they are but I do believe that we still have a long way to go – and there is much that still needs to be done.

The industry can fix this problem by opening the doors wide to women who already want to enter the field, and encouraging women who haven't yet considered it.
BizcommunityDoes Nissan have any women empowerment programmes? If so, what are they?

Yes we do. Activities are organised that are geared toward female employees, including skill-development training courses and networking events. Examples of career development initiatives include mentoring programs and roundtables led by Nissan executives. Activities focusing on young female engineers are conducted as well.

I always try to learn from both male and female colleagues that I work with, and I’m also mentoring a few female colleagues just to try to guide them in their career path at Nissan South Africa and in the wider motoring industry.

BizcommunityHow can women break into the automotive industry?

Women can break into the automotive industry through hard work, confidence, assertiveness and by being motivated. With more and more women graduating from top universities all across the country, there is no reason why this gender imbalance should continue to exist in the automotive industry.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My dreams are valid and that I am the only person that can limit my dreams

BizcommunityWho or what is your biggest motivation?

Success is what motivates me to do a good job, to always keep learning. Knowing the fact that my hard work and perseverance will help me achieve greater professional success is what keeps me going. And also knowledge sharing on things I have achieved or had challenges on.

Could you list a few, if any, specific challenges females face in this industry? How do women overcome these challenges?

We are a minority, have to work twice as hard to be noticed. Our assertiveness can be mistaken for being emotional, our confidence mistaken for being cheeky. We overcome these challenges by acting ethically and doing our best at all times.

What advice do you have for the future generation of women wanting to get into the automotive space?

I would say – it’s a great space for people looking for a challenge, growth in both their careers and personal lives. It is also a great area to learn as it is very dynamic and adapts to the latest technology and global management systems.

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