Grace and Fearlessness in Female Leadership


By Optimi | 30 Aug, 2022

Marli Lombard is an industrial engineer who has been with Optimi for a decade. Over the years, she’s served in several capacities and has developed a leadership style that is as feminine as it is inspirational. Here is what she had to say about being a female leader.

If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Try to enjoy the journey more. Yes, every day brings its challenges, but with the right mindset even this can become positive. 

What role does education play in helping women become leaders?

Formal, specifically accredited, qualifications become a stepping stone, and opens doors. Once you enter the job market your education becomes more informal, in the subtle learnings of daily work. Woman have proven to take on these forms of education, allowing it to shape their skillset, abilities and influence – shaping their leadership style.  

What is something every aspiring female leader should know? 

If others choose to underestimate you, be gracious and fearless in proving them wrong. 

What does the education space in SA offer women? What should we start offering?

Education in itself does not discriminate – everyone, regardless of your gender, age, or background, should have access to quality education. The unfortunate reality of our economic context makes funding an obstacle for many women. For this reason, education must be made accessible, available and affordable to women, no matter their personal circumstances. In recent years we have seen great strides towards increased access to learning with the support from the private sector, which personally gives me hope. 

What’s your favourite part about being a woman in business? 

I appreciate that I have the ability to inspire other ladies. Mentoring women to develop their potential is an absolute passion of mine.