Ford supports the ascendance of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers and has a strong commitment to promoting it

Ongoing skills development and empowerment opportunities are provided at every level of the business to create a culture of professional and personal growth

Ford South Africa employee, Dorah Mmekwa epitomises women’s potential in automotive engineering careers

International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED20), on 23 June, marks the international awareness campaign to promote the profile of women in engineering and to highlight the diverse and fulfilling career opportunities available to girls in engineering. It also celebrates the inspiring achievements of women engineers globally.

Ockert Berry, VP Operations at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA), says, “Events like International Women in Engineering Day are an important opportunity to highlight the individual achievements of women in the field and position them as role-models for girls and young women everywhere.

“That’s why it’s worth noting the achievements of Dorah Mmekwa, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Paint Shop, at the Ford Silverton Assembly Plant.

“Colleagues like Dorah inspire each of us at Ford every day, so we’re delighted to be able to share that inspiration,” says Berry.

Mmekwa began her career at Ford in 2009 as an Industrial Engineering graduate trainee, after which she was hired as an hourly employee as Process and Industrial Engineering technician on the Silverton plant’s Trim, Chassis and Final (TCF) line in 2010. She was soon moved into the Quality department, and was responsible for dealing with external data and warranty claims, while helping to monitor and resolve quality issues for the manufacturing operations.

In 2011 she was given the opportunity to lead a group of quality inspectors on the TCF line. It didn’t take long for her to be promoted to a salaried position as Quality System engineer in 2012, and being given the responsibility to lead a group managing all of the quality inspectors on the assembly line.

A move to Paint Shop in 2015 came with a promotion to Senior Process engineer, focusing on continuous improvement of processes and products. In 2018 she was appointed as Lead Process coach within the Production department in the Paint Shop, to ensure that standardised processes are followed, and daily production targets are met.

Another big step came in February 2019 when Mmekwa was selected to be Acting Manufacturing Engineering and Maintenance manager in Paint Shop, and was subsequently appointed in a permanent capacity as Manufacturing Engineering manager six months later, which elevated her to a leadership level within the company.

“Ford has given me the platform to expand my knowledge and experience, and learn every step of the way,” Mmekwa says. “I was assigned mentors to groom and coach me in the various areas of the business, and to prepare me for my next job assignments.

“The continuous training and skills development opportunities provided by Ford have helped increase my knowledge and understanding of my various functions, roles and responsibilities. I went on a special six-month assignment to learn more about maintenance, as I had little knowledge or experience regarding the Maintenance Operating System (MOS) that is crucial to keep the plant running efficiently,” she adds.

“Ford has also provided regular assessments to help me identify my strengths and weaknesses as part of the Individual Development Planning (IDP) process. This helps employees achieve personal objectives while making meaningful contributions to the business,” Mmekwa explains.

“I am very grateful to Ford for the 11 years I have spent with the company so far, and for the opportunities I have been given to develop on a personal level and in my career.”

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