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Maphefo Anno-Frempong on how she is steering a male-driven industry to greater heights

Chief Executive Officer of the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), Maphefo Anno-Frempong, is a woman on a mission. Credited with turning around an entity that has lost credibility in the transport sector and in the SETA industry as a whole due to a number of investment decisions that turned out differently. She undertook and oversaw the implementation of a turnaround strategy with the support of the Board, the staff, the Executing Authority and different constituencies in the transport sector.

This strategy led to the revival of the organization and ushered in a new era of unqualified audits, underpinned by a Strategic Plan, Internal Controls and corporate governance systems supported by strategic occupational programmes and innovative remedies to address persistent sectoral challenges.

She has set her sights on supporting numerous National Transformation initiatives of the transport sector. This is premised on skills development, employment creation, expansion of entrepreneurial opportunities and building a pool of quality leaders.

Her efforts to advance women in the transport sector into executive roles, among many other initiatives involves her championing the implementation of three strategic leadership programmes namely; the International Leadership Development Programme, International Executive Development Programme and International Leadership Development Programme for Women. Her defiance of male perceptions towards female leaders in the transport sector is inspiring her vision.

She has been at the helm since 2008, Mrs. Anno-Frempong credits the strong strides TETA is making under her leadership to strategic partnerships the organization has managed to build with key industry players and leading educational institutions nationally and internationally.

She has recently been made an Honorary Fellow of The World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden, which is a postgraduate maritime university founded by the International Maritime Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations. The awards ceremony will be hosted in November this year, where Anno-Frempong is expected to speak at the institution’s President’s dinner.

GLAMOUR got a chance to chat with this dynamic woman about her journey and her plans for the future.

You are credited with turning the transport SETA and being a boundary breaker – how did you go about this?

Agility, courage and determination coupled with foresight and excessive resilience could easily sum up the pillars I employed to reposition and repackage a rather wrecked and dented brand. My approach was also centred around a strong management team that bought into my vision and were able to implement various turnaround strategies to improve SETA performance, audit outcomes and accelerate delivery of programmes to needy communities.

What was your turnaround strategy based on?

Transformation in the transport sector involves multifarious role players. We would err to think an individual can bring about the necessary change and progress. TETA is of the view that all our strategic goals and ambitions as an authority in the transport sector can only be achieved through partnerships. And over the years we have harvested from partnerships with industry bodies, local and global higher education and training institutions, community leaders and key government entities.

The National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) and now the National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) have dictated any TETA strategic endeavour. Our passion for transformation and progress in the transport industry is fuelled by the National Vision2030. We have also ensured that we keep our eyes on global trends in our skills development and training initiatives so we can address emerging issues and mandates as it relates to green economy, ocean economy, and of current, the fourth industrial revolution skills demands.

Can you tell me a bit about your career - why the passion for Transport education?

I have served our country in various departments at provincial and national level. I was involved in regulator policy coordination in the national Department of Transport and proceeded to serve as Regional Director for Roads and Community Safety in the Northwest Province. Before joining TETA, I returned to the National Department of Transport as Chief Director for Road Transport Regulation. The goal of every public sector institution or agency is to provide a service that improves the lives of people. Without reservation, I can say that it has been rewarding and fulfilling to be involved (through my day-to-day work) in several efforts to undo the injustices of the past; create equal opportunities for every member of the society and pave a better future for all citizens.

As a woman you must come against a lot of adversity, it’s clear you’re extremely powerful – how has the journey been?

I would like to believe that my challenges are the same as that of any other woman who may wish to enter the transport industry either as a professional, a leader or entrepreneur. For example, I have tried my hand at the trucking industry but failed; amidst being a leader of a transport sector skills authority. The journey has not been easy on both an entrepreneurial and career front; however, no adversity can conquer a courageous and determined woman.

Has advancing women in the sector been challenging? If so how? (anything to do with men has always been male based)

My passion for the advancement of women in the transport sector is twofold. One involves leadership development and the other involves entrepreneurship development. Both of these fields are infested with inequalities and suffer from male domination. But the positive feedback we receive about how our international leadership development programmes have been able to accelerate women into leadership positions within the sector paints a picture of strides made. A couple of years ago, we started entrepreneurship summits hosted across the country and exclusive to women. Demand for participation in these summits has been growing and this is just proof that these summits address deep entrepreneurship yearnings within women.

Do you further encourage other women to get into this sector and how can we go about getting them interested?

Increasing women participation in the transport industry requires all women in the country to play their part. Those who are already in the industry should learn to lift as they rise. Those who wish to enter must take it upon their shoulders to do the groundwork and be bold to take advantage of opportunities. In reality, there are opportunities for women in the sector despite its diverse challenges. But these challenges can easily be conquered through self-empowerment, exposing yourself to information and knowledge and taking the necessary steps to achieve what you want.

There is a young girl in South Africa looking up to you – what are your words of strength and encouragement?

My burning desire is to see young women who know who they are, understand what they are capable of and are bold to go after what they want enter the transport sector. So I would say to every young woman out there: hunt like a lion and fly high like an eagle. It is not about being the smartest, largest or smallest animal in the jungle; it’s about knowing who you are and going after what you want.

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