Durban ICC Shatters Glass Ceiling For Women In Leadership

The past two decades have seen women in South Africa take the lead in some of the most challenging senior management positions, but according to new research, conducted by Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) on women in business, the percentage of women in senior management positions in South Africa is still inadequate.

The study reveals the proportion of business leadership roles held by women stands at a paltry 27%. However, the Durban International Convention Centre has shattered the “glass-ceiling” with women representing 67% of its senior management team. Overall, women represent 57.5% the Centre’s total workforce.

The Durban ICC’s executive management team is currently spearheaded by four dynamic women who are making their mark in the global events industry. Chief Executive Officer, Lindiwe Rakharebe, Operations Director Nicolette Elia-Beissel, Marketing, Sales and Events Director Mala Dorasamy and Financial Director Melanie Rambally are leading the company to new heights through their respective contributions to the Durban ICC’s success.

Rakharebe joined the Durban ICC in April, from her position as ABSA’s Regional Executive for KwaZulu-Natal, and has a strong background in corporate management and has worked in a managerial capacity for all four of South Africa’s major banking institutions. Her areas of expertise include strategic planning, research, marketing, community liaison, policy development and basic principles of good corporate governance.

She is passionate about women and gender issues in respect of women empowerment and caring for the aged is close to her heart. In light of her leadership role in driving women empowerment and caring for the aged, she is currently serving as the Chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Network in preventing violence against women.

In her role as Financial Director, Melanie Rambally is keeping the fiscal lines tight and ensuring that the Durban ICC maintains its commitment to strong internal controls and strict adherence to the principles of good governance. She assumed the position in February 2014 and brings extensive experience in financial management and local government legislation to the table.

Having joined the Durban ICC in September 2008, Nicolette Elia-Beissel has served as Operations Director since June 2012. She boasts over 14 years’ experience in the industry and has had the privilege of contributing to the industry as a Board Member of various industry associations such as SATSA and EXSA.

Commenting on her role at the Durban ICC, Elia-Beissel noted, “As a team, we operate on the highest international standards and although the Durban ICC holds a number of local and international quality certifications, this industry is always evolving. This challenges us to take every opportunity to enhance our processes and ensure that our clients’ experience is constantly improving.”

Marketing, Sales and Events Director, Mala Dorasamy took up the reins in September 2013. She was part of the original team which opened the Durban ICC in 1997 and boasts eighteen years of experience in the Marketing, Sales and Events department. She brings a wealth of first-hand knowledge and insight to the position owing to her extensive organisational knowledge and creative energy.

Dorasamy has recently been honoured with two industry awards. She was voted one of the Top 40 Women in the MICE industry. This initiative honours women who have made a positive difference in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition industry. She was the recipient of the SAACI Fellowship Award for KwaZulu-Natal for her contribution to advancing the meetings and events industry in the province.

Commenting on the strategy for the Durban ICC, Dorasamy noted, “We target specific events in key economic sectors that will directly contribute to the future economic growth of the city of Durban. We also strive to maintain the position we have established as Africa’s leading convention centre and achieving accolades such as the World Travel Awards and being rated in the world’s top 15 convention centres in the recent AIPC Apex Awards.

Although a vast improvement has been seen made in the last 21 years of our democracy, gender inequality still remains a major issue in our country. Looking forward, the Durban ICC will continue to play a leading role, not only in the African business events industry, but in the ongoing campaign for gender equality.

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Members of the Durban ICC Top Management and Senior Sales and Events Coordinators. Back Row (L-R Gwyn Heaton, Ashona Maharaj, Lindsey Verfaillie, Irene Vallihu and Lee-Ann Dahl. Front Row (L-R) Zama Kwela, Mala Dorasamy, Lindiwe Rakharebe, Nokukhanya Mbonambi, Melanie Rambally and Nicolette Elia-Beissel