A WOMAN’S WORLD
Even in progressive South Africa, it is rare to find women heading companies – and even more so in aviation. South African Airways is an exception, with Mzimela and former diplomat and businesswoman Cheryl Carolus heading the airline’s management and supervisory board respectively.
Not only is Mzimela SAA’s first female boss, but last year, she became the first woman to be appointed to IATA’s board of directors.
She accepts she is seen as a role model. “In all the positions I’ve held, I’ve been the only woman or one of a few. The responsibility I carry is that it cannot be about me. I have to represent all women,” she says.
She admits that a female executive will often be subject to negative stereotyping. “Yes, if you do a good job, you get congratulated,” she says. “But if you do a bad job, it’s ‘What do you expect from a woman?’.”