BSc (Honours) (University of Zimbabwe), MBL (Unisa),
CSEP (Columbia), BLP (Duke Corporate Education)
Executive head: Process
July graduated in Engineering and Business Leadership from
the universities of Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively,
and completed the Senior Executive Programme with
Columbia Business School. He was previously employed in
Zimbabwe by Anglo American Zimbabwe subsidiaries,
where he held senior managerial positions in metallurgical
operations and technical services. He transferred to Anglo
Platinum in 2001, was initially appointed business manager
of Polokwane Smelter, and later became head of process
technology. In September 2007 he was appointed executive
head: process at Anglo Platinum.
Sitting on the executive committee of one of the world’s biggest multi-national mining companies, July Ndlovu, refuses to let power go to his head.
“I am no different from the ordinary man on the street and I would not call myself a successful person,” he says with true humility. “I am just an ordinary man working very hard and I have been pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to work with people who believe in me.
If the truth be told, there are many other people who are as qualified as I am and others who are brighter, but are still nowhere near where I am now.”
In his fourth year as Executive Head of Process, Member of Executive Committee and Member of Operations Committee at Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Anglo Platinum Ltd, Ndlovu (45) is one of very few blacks to hold such a post in mining here.
How to be a Millionaire
With Anglo-Platinum being the world's leading primary producer of platinum group metals and accounting for about 40 per cent of the world's newly-mined platinum, Ndlovu’s phenomenal rise up its ladder cannot be downplayed, even by the man himself.
Ndlovu, who graduated in Engineering and Business Leadership from the Universities of Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively, and completed the Senior Executive Programme with Columbia Business School, is also the Chairman of Anglo’s Zimbabwean subsidiary, Unki Platinum, which resumed operations late last year.
Cause for celebration
As the interview continues, Ndlovu begins to admit that his status in business is something out of reach for an ordinary man. His rise from a boy born to a poor peasant family in dusty Shurugwi, Zimbabwe’s Midlands province, is real cause for celebration, a great inspiration to every Zimbabwean, and indeed most Africans.
“I enjoy being in business, making money for my shareholders, but I love more the fact that things that I do, such as the company’s social responsibility, make a difference in society,” he says.
“Platinum group metals have gone a long way to solve some of the society’s most intractable problems and being part of that makes me happy.”
Ndlovu gives credit to his poor parents, who kept him on the straight and narrow and believed in the last-born of the family of six.
“In poor families, more often than not, the hopes and aspirations for children is quite limited. But I was fortunate to be born to parents who found it within themselves to believe and hope that their son could do something much more than they had done themselves,” he says.
“I learnt that if you dream that you can be something else in life, if you literally see beyond the horizon of the naked eye, have simple faith and believe in your dreams – you can achieve great things.
“Each one of us was born with a gift to be the very best that we can be. I realized that and worked through it and always had the feeling that I should make better my today than my yesterday. I also sought and got God’s blessings on my side.”
Ndlovu has worked for Anglo-Platinum for most of his life, having had stints at ZimAlloys, Zimasco and Bindura Nickel Corporation, before migrating to South Africa in an intra-company transfer in 2001.
He served as Business Manager of Polokwane Smelter and also as its Head of Process Technology, before he rose to his present post in September 2007.
He still has high hopes for his home country. Unki’s operations are part of his grand plan to get Zimbabwe working again.
“It is pleasing to employ local people, contribute to local economy and exploit resources for the common good of the Zimbabwean people.”
And the best way for a child to lay the foundation for a decent future?
“Education, education, education,” emphasizes Ndlovu.
“I would like to advice the youth to take their education seriously because it is the only way through which they can open doors to opportunity. To be able to play the game, you need to first get the ticket and get in, and then you can start thinking about playing the game.”
Ndlovu also has advice for Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and great predictions for Zimbabwe’s economic prospects.
“Getting a chance of a breakthrough will always be difficult in a foreign land, but there are still vast opportunities opening up in Zimbabwe, which we should take advantage of,” he says.
“Instead of killing ourselves trying to find work in foreign lands, we should go back and leverage the skills we have acquired outside. Every Zimbabwean who has lived outside the country has learnt something valuable that they should consider giving back to their country. I have met teachers who have become nurses and engineers who have become managers of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
“Zimbabwe will reclaim its place as one of Africa’s best economies, but that will take willingness, determination and selflessness on the part of our leaders. Political divisions will not take us forward but only drag us down. We need to stand together as Zimbabwean people to make progress. Thank God we are not sinking any more.”
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