African Female Electrician – Chengetai Mashora

As those before us assumed that only men could be electricians, today we present a female Electrician from Zimbabwe;

Hi Chengetai, thank you for your willingness to share your STEM journey with the world through us. You are welcome to today’s episode
Hi Winnie. Reading about the women you feature weekly fascinates me. It motivates me, and at the same time makes me want to be part of that. Thank you for considering me.

Who is Chengetai, in summary?
My full name is Chengetai Mashora from Zimbabwe. I am a qualified Electrician but I’m currently employed by Tongaat Hulett, Zimbabwe as a Maintenance Planner.

Briefly walk us through your journey of becoming an Electrician and finally a Maintenance Planner
My siblings and I grew up with the best education needed to succeed in life. We had determined parents, despite not having much. I was always creative and unapologetic about who I was. From 10 years of age, I learned to sew, knit, craft, and do hair. I always had a hunger to learn and the willingness to embrace any opportunity that came my way.

Initially, I wanted to be a Veterinarian but that changed when I didn’t attain the specific results required to get a medical degree. My late brother, a fabricator, offered an alternative which was to enroll in an apprenticeship program as an Electrician. I selected the top companies in Zimbabwe that were recruiting for apprenticeship programs. After countless applications, I finally got into Tongaat Hulett, Zimbabwe, one of the leading sugar producers in Southern Africa.

In 2006, I was the only female in a group of 19 male apprentices but I was determined to be the best and to learn from the best. I worked 110% more than my colleagues and felt all eyes were on me to see if I could survive this journey of being an Electrician. In 2010, I obtained my Licensed Electrician qualification and was permanently employed by Tongaat Hulett as an Electrician, mainly based at the Power Generation Station.

I became an asset to the company because of my resilience and great work ethic. As a result, I rose through the ranks to a Maintenance Planner.

I can imagine the number of challenges you have had to overcome as a female Electrician. Tell us about those
There are several challenges that I have faced along the way, the first one being my gender. I knew that I had chosen a male-dominated trade when I started as an apprentice. To be embraced as part of the team, I proved that I deserved to be there and had the capabilities to do what was required of me. I grew a thick skin and emotional intelligence which helped me maintain my focus. When criticized, I separated the “wheat from the chaff”-and took only the positives along the way.

Another challenge was the fact that as a woman, I am expected to grow up, get married, and have children. It’s somehow difficult for a woman to get back into the industry after birth. It is a challenge to battle the emotions of motherhood and equally try to excel at work. However, as I mentioned earlier, you grow a thick skin and multitask both motherhood and your career.

What is your constant source of motivation and inspiration, especially when challenges arise?
Achievers across all sectors in life inspire me to keep moving ahead in life. The fact that one person can do what they are passionate about, overcome challenges, and succeed is all the motivation I need.

Personally, as a mother, the existence of my daughters inspires me a lot! I will take any opportunity to prove to them that any woman can be what they want and dream of being.

Let’s talk about your prestigious achievements on your journey as an Electrician
Well, I will split this question into personal and professional achievements.

Professionally, I was recognized as one of the most resilient professionals with the ability to get work done. I pride myself in being able to collaborate with a team and propel the company to greater success. I feel greatly rewarded when I complete projects/tasks continuously. My other joy comes when my superiors rely on me for my expertise.

Academically, I was awarded the “Best Engineering Student” in 2007 at Masvingo Polytechnic College with 9 Distinctions. I do, however, know that my destiny is so much more than what I have experienced so far. I am yet to reach my fullest potential – the sky is the limit.  

Personally, having a family and cherishing those special milestones, both good and sad, has been an achievement as well.

Who are you outside your duties as an Electrician?
Outside work, I’m a mother, a wife, a sister, an aunt, and a daughter. My only brother passed away in 2014, followed by my father in 2016. So the family is now matriarchal, which has also cemented the resilience I talked about earlier.

I’m a mother to three daughters and I believe each has inherited one of my special qualities. Not to forget this, I am a firm Christian. I am an achiever who hopes to become a Civil Engineer in the next 3 years. This dream is already in the process of becoming a reality.

What is your favorite quote?
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci.

The explanation is that it takes a lot of hard work to do something simple. One truly needs to understand the challenges and come up with elegant solutions. To be truly simple you have to understand the complexities of life and overcome them.

What is your word of encouragement for a young girl who aspires to become an Electrician?
My words of encouragement come from one of the most powerful women in the world, Oprah! “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, the ability to triumph begins with you – always.”

Thank you for allowing us to write about you, Chengetai! It’s truly inspiring to learn that a woman can also succeed as an Electrician. We wish you the very best with your career aspirations.

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