Linda Mabhena

Linda Mabhena is the Founder and CEO of DLO Energy Resources Group, a wholly owned black female Independent Power Producer (IPP) based in South Africa.

Formed in 2011, DLO Energy Resources Group develops, owns, builds and operates renewable energy power plants by generating electricity from clean natural resources such as the sun or wind. It comprises of an energy investment arm with a wide-ranging portfolio in the renewable energy sector including wind and solar Photo Voltaics (PV) technology. DLO currently owns one of the largest wind farms in Africa operating at a capacity of 244MW (megawatts), meaning 160,000 homes in South Africa are receiving carbon free solar power.

Linda resides in Johannesburg, South Africa with her husband and three daughters aged 6, 3 and 1 years. Her personal interests include travelling, reading, watching documentaries, movies, cooking and spending time with her family.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am the Founder and Group CEO of DLO Energy Resources Group, we are a 100% black female own energy company headquartered in South Africa and operating on the African continent. We currently own and operate one of Africa’s largest wind farm projects. We recently also acquired Conco Energy Solutions which was part of the CIG group which was listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange the company has since rebranded as DLO Energy Solutions and the company is a leader in engineering technology and innovation in the energy space.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Definitely I consistently plan my next steps in my career. From the age of 6 I knew roughly what I wanted to do but that only concretised at the age of 23 after studying law .I felt entrepreneurship was a concrete was of making a real change through employing people, creating smaller companies through the supply chain and contributing to the economy.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I have faced a number of challenges in my career the most obvious one being racism. Whilst South Africa is politically transform since apartheid we still experience economic exclusion as the black majority in our country with black people owning/managing less than 2% of the companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange for a country where the majority is black, this is abysmal to say the least. It is this economic exclusion that led to the recent riots in our country.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There are two developing and having equity in our wind farms and acquiring Conco Energy Solutions as this makes it the first black and majority female owned automation and protection engineering company in the country.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I have a strong work ethic , I am one person that is willing to put in the hours required to reach this level of success, however I think my key wining factor is that I am authentic and reliable people resonate with that. When I commit to a goal or outcome I make sure its done.

Linda Mabhena

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I would say focus on technology that is not a nice to have but a must have. I would say that across business actually. As economies globally try to recover from the economic setbacks the companies that have had resilience are those that serve primary needs whether it be food, shelter, energy and fin tech. So when I decide what to invest in I always look at what people will always require regardless of the economic circumstances and for me electricity is in that top 10 of basic human needs. I would also say look at global trends always be a step ahead of where the world is heading in your area of interest.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Definitely. I am always the only female in most meeting with our clients, that has a lot to do with the number of women studying technical subjects. I don’t think the broader career spectrum is clearly presented to women, most times the perception is that if you study engineering you will always be on the field and you won’ t have the opportunity to achieve your personal goals such as family, but I am a firm believer in designing your life and career and making it work for you. I made the sacrifices earlier in my career so that I could also be a hands on mum later in my life. I think it is so important that women see more examples of what is possible.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Inclusion. Women need to be part of the key decision making however women also need to raise their hands for these opportunities. I think we tend to fear being under qualified and under estimate the art of learning on the job. Men don’t seem to struggle with this.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

People cannot become what they do not see for me it starts with showcasing the women in the space, further those women giving their time to educate and inspire the next generation. Women need to be intentional about opening the door for other women, often we are too preoccupied with being the only woman on the board and that serves no one.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

For me engineering new in South Africa is a good publication to keep up to date on what is happening in the sector. Globally I enjoy the Bloomberg New Energy outlook publication.