Women in Business Series: Sue-Ann Huyser
As a General Manager of Synthesis, a solutions-drive tech company, Sue-Ann Huyser is making waves in a traditionally male-dominated industry. We chatted to her about cracking the proverbial glass ceiling.
Does being a woman influence the way you lead in the workplace?
I believe that being a woman leader has made me a stronger person and, at the same time, more aware of my softer side. I have embraced that I can be soft and approachable in the work environment because everyone needs a friend at some time or another. I have learned to look at the bigger picture; to look at today, a year into the future. This has enabled me to empower more people through the art of delegating, which creates opportunities for them.
Are you satisfied with South Africa’s efforts in empowering women in business?
The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) arena is vastly underpopulated by women. According to UNESCO Statistics, females make up only 23% of STEM talent globally and this holds true for South Africa where there is a shortfall of females practising in this space. At Synthesis we partnered with GirlCode and held educational webinars to inspire and educate women in this space. At Synthesis, all our boardrooms are named after females who have brought innovation into our space. I personally have assisted in creating a culture of female empowerment at Synthesis and I am proud to see other companies in our sector doing the same.
Do you think we’re seeing more women entering traditionally male-dominated industries?
I see less women entering traditionally male-dominant industries, due to fear or lack of education.
What has been one of your proudest moments in your current job?
When our first group of learners completed their qualification. Being part of the process to empower unemployed youth to get a qualification and then gainful employment, proved to me that with our participation, we can improve the system.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge in recent times and how have you responded to it?
To stay involved in actioning change. Our learnerships finished in March this year and we held our first ever virtual graduation. Following this we were inspired and started our new learnership with a virtual welcome video. To overcome our current situation, I have become creative in incorporating our digital tools to continue the good work we have started.
What advice can you give young women who are now entering the workplace or on the cusp of becoming leaders themselves?
Stay true to your nature of being feminine and nurturing. These qualities are rare in the work environment and a moment of kindness can change a person’s life.
What are some of the most important skills young people need to navigate the current reality and a post-COVID future?
To learn how to communicate and how to embrace technology. In our company we talk about keeping everyone in the loop and after a couple of years, it has become second nature.
I want to encourage our young people to embrace the opportunity that the fourth industrial revolution is bringing. Use technology not only to take selfies, but to sign up for an online course. Use technology as a tool to grow your knowledge.
Are you involved in any initiatives where you assist less fortunate women to improve their circumstances?
I am part of a committee that works with GirlCode who trains young women to find gainful employment in the IT space. It is a personal passion for me to see all women at all stages of their life grow into their potential. I also work with informal small groups of women from rural areas to teach them how to knit, sew and create items that they can sell.
Find out more about Synthesis at synthesis.co.za. Also keep an eye out on our social media pages for our 5-minute Master class videos generously created by the Synthesis staff members.