Professionals with Passion

The UmhlangaSeptember 1, 2023

Female and fierce, they love what they do. We spoke to some experts in different professions about their journeys to becoming leaders in their industry.


Mental Wellness 

Who is Nqobile Maphumulo?

I am a small-town girl operating in my calling as a clinical psychologist at my practice, uNqobile Psychologists. I am a warm and approachable person, passionate about spreading mental health awareness. I love what I do, and I believe in the power of its influence. I currently have a private practice in La Lucia and my areas of specialty include trauma, grief, relationships and mood disorders.


Why psychology? 

Coming from a small village means that I grew up with very limited information about mental health, however, I could see the effects of it around me in my community. This resulted in me always wanting to understand the dynamics behind human behaviour. I use my profession to do exactly that. It gives me the platform to help guide people through their personal life dynamics and how these may affect their overall functioning.


How did you end up where you are today?

The journey to becoming a clinical psychologist included seven years of professional training, a lot of personal challenges, and growth. I have had the privilege of working in various socio-cultural contexts, which has helped me gain a lot of experience and understanding of the different cultural and religious dynamics which influence people’s interaction with their mental health.


What is it like working as a female in this profession?  

Being a female psychologist has come with a lot of challenges. There is a general misconception that females are more likely to become too emotionally invested in clients’ issues. I feel that being a female psychologist is actually a strength because females generally have a deeper level of compassion and relatability due to our nurturing nature. I pride myself in the response of my clients to my therapeutic interventions, and it continues to show me that we can all use the things that make people doubt us, work for our benefit.


What inspires you to work hard in your field, pushing boundaries and making strides?

My own life journey and personal battles that I’ve conquered and continue to conquer. I am also highly inspired by each and every client who I’ve had the pleasure of assisting. I will always be an advocate for mental health and create more awareness. One of my greatest desires is to be able to spread education to less fortunate communities that are very affected by mental health matters but may not have the right knowledge, information and tools to help them take the necessary steps to get help.


What advice would you give other women starting out in your field of work?

I would honestly say go for it. There’s such great strength in women using their natural nurturing ability in our profession. We need more women in psychology. As much as the journey can be long and challenging, if you persevere, it can be the most rewarding experience of your life. I would encourage anyone wanting to pursue a career in psychology to do it and do it wholeheartedly.


Dedication to Law 

Who is Subashnee Moodley? 

I am the current Managing Partner and Chair of Livingston Leandy Incorporated, a firm whose history goes back more than 135 years. LLI is one of those pioneering firms in the “over 130 years in existence category” that has shattered the glass ceiling by appointing me as its first female MD in 2017. Over the last few decades, the firm has innovated and transformed in terms of skillset, technology, and diversity in order to remain relevant. One of the major strategic imperatives was to ensure an environment that allows for diversity and gender parity. 


Why law?

I have always had a passion for law. The legal profession has so many constantly evolving tentacles, that one can never get bored in this profession. As with the rest of our team at LLI, our passion for law extends beyond our fee-generating practice. We always try to pull others along on the journey, not just within LLI, but outside of our organisation as well.


How did you end up where you are today?

As with all lawyers starting out, it’s been a journey of hard work, perseverance, and focused goals. Experience is indeed a great thing, and, at LLI, we are open to sharing our growth, experience and journey with aspirant attorneys and leaders. The firm’s partnership with various non-profit legal and empowerment organisations, as well as educational institutions, bears testimony to the value we place in giving back to those that deserve an opportunity!


What is it like working as a female leader in this profession?  

There will always be challenges but having the determination and confidence to navigate those challenges, with the support of a board and team, always yields success. The key is to continue to lead courageously, authentically, and honestly even during the toughest times. It is the challenges faced during these times that build resilience.


What inspires you as a leader to work hard in your field, pushing boundaries and making strides?

Making a positive impact on the lives of our clients, employees and colleagues and empowering, mentoring and upskilling a new generation of lawyers, is what inspires us. It is important that leaders evolve with the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in. Each leadership style is unique. Provided you have the key ingredients of consistency, honesty, empathy, compassion, and the ability to listen, you learn and grow every day as a leader. Being kind and paying it forward is a key part of our mantra. Our practice is such that it paves the path to leadership roles and drives ambitious professionals within our organisation.  


What advice would you give other women starting out in your field of work?

There are opportunities out there for women and for young people – it’s about being present in the moment, being ambitious and hungry for success, and confidently grabbing those opportunities by showcasing your skillset, the quality of your work, and the positive impact you have on your team and within the organisation.


Creating Families 

Who is Dr Skye de Jongh?

I am a mother who is passionate about helping women experience the wonder of motherhood. I am originally from Durban, the daughter of two doctors, and now live in Umhlanga with my husband and daughter Lily. For the past two years, I have been an integral part of the Vitalab Fertility Clinic family, where I have helped numerous couples conceive and complete their families.


Why reproductive medicine?

I was first exposed to the world of fertility when I donated eggs to a family member with infertility during my university years. Unfortunately, that journey was unsuccessful, and I saw the devastating effect not being able to conceive had on that family. From that point on, I knew that it was my calling to help families who want a child to achieve that dream.


How did you end up where you are today?

My parents inspired me to go into medicine. I received my medical degree with cum laude honours from the University of Pretoria. I then completed my residency in obstetrics and gynaecology at Wits and recently obtained my second master’s degree in reproductive biotechnology from the University of Valencia in Spain.


What is it like working as a female in this profession?  

Reproductive medicine is a male-dominated world, but slowly more women are stepping up and joining the field. The benefit of being a female gynae is that many women are much more comfortable with a woman due to the intimate nature of the examinations. I also feel privileged to have been able to experience pregnancy and sadly also a miscarriage. I feel that my experience helps me to better empathise with and guide my patients. It is tough being pregnant in my profession though. I often feel guilty and can see the pain it causes my patients who are still at the beginning of their fertility journey.


What inspires you to work hard in your field, pushing boundaries and making strides?

What inspires me every day is the joy that I bring to my patients the moment they get that positive pregnancy test, the moment they hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time at seven weeks, and the moment their little baby waves at them through the sonar at 10 weeks. I also love it when my patients return after I have operated on them or given them medication to fix their problem and they walk in with a huge smile on their face saying, “Thank you! I can’t tell you how much better I feel.” This is such a rewarding job and I feel so blessed to be doing what I love.


What advice would you give other women starting out in your field of work?

If I had to give young doctors any advice it would be: do what you love. I remember when I first told people that I wanted to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology. They all told me I was mad. “You’ll never sleep!” they said. But I loved it and I decided that I would make it work for me. And that’s what I did. You can do anything you set your mind to.


Design and Align 

Who is Nikita Lopes Rajoo? 

I am the co-founder of OMNI Architects alongside Om Moodley and I am the Design Architect for the majority of the projects. I try to focus on both the architectural aspects as well as delve into interior design where necessary. When I’m not in the office, I’m either at the gym or doing some outdoor activities.


Why architecture? 

To be very honest, I didn’t initially choose architecture – it somehow chose me. Architecture is such an amazing career as it is so intertwined with many aspects of our lives. It literally makes you learn a little bit about everything, and that is what drew me to it even more. I never get bored and I’m just constantly learning.


How did you end up where you are today?

I worked for six years in two amazing companies before I decided to take the leap to start my own practice. It was a rough start, and I had many challenges being such a young female in the industry, but the constant support from family, friends and clients made me push through. I can’t wait for more exciting milestones in the company. It really has grown from strength to strength.


What is it like working as a female in this profession? 

I cannot lie- it’s not a bed of roses. It definitely takes much more effort and a longer time to become “recognised” as a female architect in the community. The biggest challenge for me personally (adding the factor that I am young) would be that some men generally get upset and defensive when I display an assertive disposition about a design element or a construction issue. However, work is work and it must be treated as such. I think that is something that still needs a lot of work in the community. What is an advantage is that architecture definitely requires a lot of multi-tasking – something females are very good at. 


What inspires you to work hard in your field, pushing boundaries and making strides?

Other amazing, influential architects are the people who inspire me. I look at what they have done, admire it, and try to do better. I also challenge myself a lot with the type of projects I take on. Diversity is important to me. I am currently working on three schools (one of them specialising in special needs) and a police station and prison – which is very interesting. I try to never repeat specific design details I have done in my projects and always push the boundaries for new ideas. I absolutely love trying new things which, in many instances, makes the engineers and contractors crazy!


What advice would you give other women starting out in your field of work?

Don’t underestimate yourself. People will definitely try to make you second-guess yourself. Don’t let them! Stay confident and keep smiling. Never give up! Please keep researching and learning from other influential architects. Lastly, never forget that the experiences in your life are what will make your designs stand out.