Leading the national sales team for a material handling company in the industrial sector in South Africa is a position that carries with it great responsibility. As a female, to be accepted as an expert in this field requires strength, determination, and tenacity. Vuyokazi Bangazi, National Sales Manager for Toyota Material Handling, has embraced these qualities and carved a successful 20-year career in this male-dominant industry.

Bangazi is one of many female leaders who are driving change, diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace at CFAO Equipment SA, the partner of choice in the material handling market, offering total solutions and best-in-class brands in new and pre-owned equipment, rental options, and value-added services.

Over the past five years, emphasis has been placed on gender inclusion at CFAO Equipment SA. Today its management team proudly boasts a 45% contingent of female managers, which is testament to the company’s commitment to investing in, and advancing, women in the industry. A passion to grow the material handling sector is reflected in the entrepreneurial spirit, agility and performance of the company’s diversely skilled teams, and the world-class products and services offered through its three dedicated divisions – Toyota Material Handling, 600SA and Heavy Lift.

Bangazi is an example of this committed investment, and her journey from trainee to National Sales Manager.

“When I joined the company as a young trainee graduate, I knew very little about forklifts. However, I realised early on there were opportunities open to me if I was willing to learn and grow, and I am forever grateful to CFAO Equipment SA for opening those doors for me. Today, I am passionate about the company, its products, and the industry, and am thankful for the many growth opportunities it has afforded me,” says Bangazi.

CFAO Equipment SA places a great deal of emphasis on building strong teams to deliver on its strategies and objectives. Whoever leads these teams, whether male or female, knows that they can always count on and rely on the contributions and support from the people who surround them, whether they are other leaders in business, colleagues, and team members, or mentors both within and outside the industry.

The company also acknowledges the importance of creating an accepting and enabling environment that encourages women to grow in their roles and make a meaningful contribution to the success of the company. Across all areas of the company, women are making their mark. For example, ten years ago there were no female technicians. Today there is a concerted effort to encourage more young women to consider career opportunities in the material handling sector, as a technician, marketer, salesperson, or manager. Diversity is embraced across the company in all areas of gender, race, age, and culture.

Working in a highly technical industry can be intimidating to someone who does not understand the industry and environment. Encouraging young people, particularly women, to step into this industry – as a technician or in sales – is a role the female leaders have adopted.

“We can offer solid advice and demonstrate to young women that this industry is open to anyone who is willing to learn and shows initiative. My track record, together with my female colleagues, speaks for itself and serves as a great motivator for young people,” comments Bangazi.

Part of the success of the company’s culture comes down to understanding how each team member interacts with and treats fellow colleagues, because that has a direct impact on how they will be treated by others. Female managers in the company can attest to the fact that delegating roles to team members, whether male or female, makes no difference to them, because they have earned their leadership positions and the respect of their colleagues. They attribute their growth and success to the people who have surrounded and supported them, opened doors, and paved the way for them.