Situations will not determine your destiny

Cathrine Vuma (Nkwinika), born in Soweto, Meadowlands Zone 5, 1974 July 07. I am the second child of Mr & Mrs Nkwinika in the family of 8 children. I am married with three kids, one son (Nkateko - 18) and two daughters (Amukelani - 12 & Maboko - 3) and currently working for Statistics South Africa as Team Leader (Deputy Director): HRM Projects. I grew up in the dusty village of Hammanskraal (Majaneng)

Life was tough at home since I had to take the role of my mother who was working far from home and who came home once a month. When my mother lost her job in early 90’s she started a business of selling fat cakes and chicken runaways. My little sister and I had to wake up at 02:00 am and prepare fire for my mother to bake fat cakes. We had to travel more than 15 kilometres to catch a bus to Babelegi factories to sell fat cakes from 06:00 to 07:30. We were then expected to walk to school for another 30 minutes. After school when we arrived at home we were expected to walk around the village to sell chicken feet. When we arrived home after that we were so tired we just wanted to sleep but there was still homework to be done. I failed my Grade 4 and my Grade 10 because of this. Having to learn how to manage a family at a young age helped me to stay put and to properly manage and organize my life.

In 1993 I became pregnant at the age of 19 and gave birth to my first born Nkateko. I decided to leave home and to stay with my husband in 1995. I met my husband, Mr Daniel Vuma while we were both still at high school. We are now together for 17 years.

I did my Grade 10 (standard 8) at Hans Kekana High and completed my Grade 11 to 12 (matric) at Lofentse Girls High School (Orlando Soweto) in 1996 where I was staying with my husband.  It was not easy for me to leave my childhood life and prepare for an unknown married life, but my husband’s support, caring and dedication helped us through all the turbulence of a young married couple and he supported me until I finished my matric.

During my school days, I participated in different sports codes, which included athletics, netball, monopoly and finger board.

After matric, my husband encouraged me to further my studies and I enrolled for a Public Finance and Accounting Diploma with TSA now called UNISA.

My husband was working in Soweto (Department of Social Service) next to where we had our first house and when my husband, got promoted from his job to join another department in Pretoria, we decided to move to Pretoria as a family as better opportunities might be available in Pretoria since most National Government departments are located in the city.

I was studying and at the same time applying for available or advertised positions especially in Government Departments. I was invited for interviews in various organizations such as SAPS, Justice, FNB and Statistics South Africa.  I was called by Statistics SA to attend an interview for a Receptionist position, and on 19 March I started my first permanent job as a Receptionist at Stats SA.  After joining Statistics South Africa, I decided to relax, and to reflect on my career before continuing with my studies.

When I resumed my work it was when the organisation was busy preparing for Census 2001, and I was seconded to the project to work as an ICT Trainer, where I was a supervisor for Data Capturers. An opportunity presented itself in HR, and my then manager Mr Refique Begg advised me to apply for the advertised HR position. I succeeded in securing the position and I was appointed as an HR Officer at level 3. I did short courses in computer packages (Microsoft Suite). After joining HR, I never looked back

I then studied Human Resources Management at Tshwane North College. I completed my National N diploma in 2007. I realised that I like working and helping people hence my career change. I am currently studying towards a B-Tech degree with Tshwane University of Technology.

In 2003, my position was upgraded from level 3 to level 6, again upgraded to level 8 and I was later promoted to level 9. I was given an opportunity to act as a Deputy Director in the Benefit & Administration Section. After my acting period, I was requested to be a Supervisor for the Record Management Section, which was a new Section within HR.` I did research and made enquiries at the National Archive, Home Affairs and SAPS to be able to turn our Leave and Registry Section around. 

During my period with the Record & Leave Management Section, I did my part to establish the section Leave & Record Management Section and oversee the growth over a period 4 years. I felt that the Record & Leave Management Section could sustain its growth without me. I decided to apply for a vacant position that was advertised in the HRM Projects Section, which was at the same level as my then position. After moving to HRM Project Section, I had an opportunity to be promoted to my current position which is a Deputy Director position and I developed my skills by also attending an Advance Management Development Programme offered by Pretoria University through PALAMA.

I joined several professional bodies like SARMF, and I was also part of the following forums (DPSA -Leave Management Forum) I was in charge for implementing the new temporary incapacity leave through (SOMA).

I was part of Census 2001, 2007 and 2011 and during the 2011 Census project, I was tasked with ensuring that all contract employees for the project were appointed and paid on time. I worked abnormal hours (starting work at 08:00 to 03:00 the following day) to make sure that all affected employees are paid on time. I am proud to announce that I managed to pay 95 000 enumerators out of 110 000 on the first scheduled date. I was also responsible for the management and updating of the candidates database.

Studying at Tshwane North Colleague assisted me because I could not cope with work and studies that is why I moved from UNISA to TNC. I used the same qualification to apply for my current position as Deputy Director HRM. Working in HR also involves mentoring, coaching, advising, and encouraging other people to further their studies. I started to encourage my sisters, brothers, colleagues and everyone around me to further their studies through TNC. There are many people encouraged by me whom I am proud to say have completed their qualification through TNC.  I was also invited by SABC 2 (for the Ngula Ya Vutivi programme) to encourage new school leavers on various options available to further their studies. I encouraged them to study at FET Colleges because it is an effective and easily accessible environment to study. The interview was followed by another one from SABC FM Munghana Lonene, based in Limpopo and SABC 1 (Cutting Edge). I felt honoured by all these invites and I wish I can do more to reach more students especially the ones in disadvantaged communities because I know what it feels like to be disadvantaged. I have been working hard to balance my working and student life, including being a mother, sister and wife.

I am working hard this year to pass my B-Tech degree and so far I made progress by seeking assistance from my tutors, lecturers and fellow students including advice from my husband.