An apprentice with an appetite for success, and a vision for others like herself.
Samkelwa Xaba completed her schooling where she was born and raised in Katlehong, Johannesburg and progressed to tackle her tertiary studies at the Vaal University of Technology. But, on applying for her first choices at the institution, these subjects were already fully booked, so, she chose something else that looked exciting to her and enrolled as a bio-technology student.
She obtained her diploma in this field, completing her studies and service training within the institution as an assistant in both the chemistry and micro-biology laboratories. After her training she joined RCL Foods as a quality controller in their laboratory and was employed there for almost four years.
Spending most of her time in the engineering department, this was when Xaba was first introduced to the HVACR industry through another female HVACR technician – she was immediately intrigued because this female technician was responsible for running the entire HVACR plant.
“I saw then there was a gap in the HVACR sector for women and I was fortunate to become close to this female technician – she was also willing to teach me all I wanted to know about the HVACR sector. I started doing my own research and applied for courses and decided to change careers to HVACR, leaving bio-technology behind.”
Being a private student, Xaba was only able to enrol for two modules using her savings. Hoping she would land an apprenticeship opportunity, she pushed forward and was delighted at receiving an offer from a company in Johannesburg where she received on the job training for a couple of months, doing air-conditioning installations and participating with some projects at PRASA.
“My career then led me to GEA Africa (Thermo King) and this was in fact the company that I always wanted to work for. I came for an interview and I was hired the same day. I knew it was meant to be because everything fell into place. It was an excellent opportunity as I could get assistance with my studies as a bonus and apprentice training within the company. To-date it has been a great experience and I have received a lot of support from the company and my fellow [male] team members.”
Outside of work, Xaba likes keeping herself busy and has a small sewing studio at home where she spends a lot of her time doing DIY projects with her daughter. She also loves learning, reading, and spending time with the rest of her family members.
Xaba’s future plans in the short-term include finishing off her studies in 2021 followed by completing her trade test. Her long-term goals include a successful career at GEA and getting the opportunity to travel within the company’s branches. She further envisions starting an organisation supporting women in HVACR with the buy-in of the industry.
As a SAIRAC student member too, Xaba knows it’s all about getting to know what is happening within the industry as well as having access to a knowledge-base and interactions through various networking opportunities.
“I’m never going to be that person who just wakes up in the morning and goes to work and then comes home again – we all need to continue learning and making our dreams a reality – this only comes from pushing yourself and through your challenges”.