If you think the world of engineering is too male-centric, you’re right, but more and more women are making it their own, like Director and Co-Founder of Tisang Group, Lusanda Tyebileyo, who shares how she makes it happen
Tell us about your current role and how you got there?
I am currently the Director and Co-Founder of Tisang Group, a building and civil engineering construction company founded in 2015. Prior to taking the bold decision of starting Tisang with my varsity friend, Lerato Kotane, I had been working in different divisions within one of South Africa’s SOEs, having taken on numerous roles as HOD and one of the top performing Programme Managers. I would say that my resilience, passion, commitment and strong character are the main reasons why I excelled in my previous roles, which has also led me to where I am today.
What’s the biggest challenge you face in your industry today?
The construction/engineering industry is still lagging behind in terms of its rate of transformation and gender equality, making it quite challenging for women-owned businesses like ours to be heard and to gain access to markets at a desirable rate.
What’s the biggest misconception about your field?
That black women-owned businesses in the industry get a free meal ticket to success. It does not work that way, in fact, we work twice as hard to be taken seriously and be considered for opportunities.
Who were your role models growing up?
It definitely has to be my father. Looking at the poverty conditions that he grew up in and the level of academic success that he pushed himself to accomplish has always made me strive to achieve more in life, and I must say that taking after his strong-willed character continues to be a great asset.
Growing up, what did you want to become?
Honestly, a musician/recording artist, but that dream was short lived with old-school parents like mine, who believed that I had too much potential to ‘waste’, because in their time, you either become a doctor, lawyer, nurse or teacher.
What’s the last thing that you do at night?
I pray! Prayer to me always has a way of putting things back into perspective, giving me peace and reassurance, especially after any storms one has gone through during a day’s work, which is inevitable in the life of an entrepreneur.
What’s your go-to power outfit?
Hahahaha! I have this black dress and black jacket that ALWAYS come to my rescue. My business partner always teases me on times where I wear it and says, ‘I see the lady in black is out today, ishubile mos’, meaning ‘it’s going down today’!
What makes you laugh?
Well, a great comedy show and being with great company always does the trick, however over and above that, giving and doing good unto others also puts a smile on my face.
What’s been the most treasured piece of career advice a woman has shared with you?
In this career path, be a woman, but think like a man!
What keeps you moving forward?
The ideology of leaving behind a legacy in business, career, family and entrepreneurship, and young girls/women around me being inspired. Not only that, but the thought of being counted amongst the women who rose above stereotypes, took that a leap of faith, played that industry transformation role, and impacted future generations. That definitely gives me hope and momentum.
To learn more about Lusando, follow her on Twitter.
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF LUSANDA TYEBILEYO