A BORN LEADER: KIMBERLY JANE, AN ADVOCATE OF EQUALITY AND FAIRNESS
By: Themba Nyovane – 17 August 2023
A true leader in her own right, Kimberly Jane Marcelle Kempkes (formerly Whittam), was born in Middleton, Leeds, North Yorkshire, England, and embarked on a journey to South Africa with her family at the age of nine (9).
She currently holds the position of Executive Administrator in the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC): Teaching-Learning & Quality Promotions (QP).
It was in 2015 that Kimberly joined the maVUTi family, stepping into the then Office of DVC: Academic and Research, bringing with her, 25 years of Secretarial experience. Her natural leadership qualities quickly shone through as she assumed the position of Chairperson for the VUT Administrators Forum (VUTAF), along with the additional responsibility of leading the staff Netball Committee. She is also the Chairperson of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the VUT branch and holds the title of Deputy-President Governance for the National Office of NTEU
“My motivations and convictions are rooted in selflessness, as I prioritize the well-being of others above my own. My core mission revolves around championing the collective good, encompassing not just the members of NTEU, but every single member of our staff community. This entails establishing a platform where equality and fairness are the guiding principles. Throughout the annals of time, women have steadfastly striven to stand shoulder to shoulder with men, as originally intended. Across history, remarkable women have consistently taken the lead in extraordinary accomplishments,” Kimberly said.
In celebration of the 2023 Women’s Month, Kimberly passionately advocates for the empowerment and support of women, fostering an environment filled with encouragement and inspiration. Similarly essential, is the venture to educate our daughters to confidently assert themselves and take pride in their unique journeys. Equally, she says, we must guide our sons to respect the choices of our daughters and offer them the same firm love and encouragement they receive.
A strong believer that what unites women together is their shared journey in a world that has predominantly been ideal for men, Kimberly highlights that woman, through their resilience and determination, women have defied gender biases and showcased their inherent worth, embodying leadership traits and destinies of greatness. “It’s worth noting that while leadership may be innate, our life experiences play a pivotal role in shaping and defining us.” Kimberly also dates back into the historical significance of African women who have consistently played pivotal roles in movements that empowered disregarded communities and shaped entire nations on the continent.
She brings to light that; the strength women have attached over generations has empowered them to confront gender-based prejudices and prove themselves as remarkable candidates in what was once a male-dominated landscape. She adds that women have eagerly championed the notion that socio-economic rights are universal, asserting that they deserve fairness and equality just as much as anyone else. Through these efforts, women have transitioned from being subject to inequality to standing tall as equals.
The commitment to gender equality is exemplified within VUT, evident in the diverse structure of the Senior Management. Expanding on the concept of Generation Equality, Kimberly advocates for equal treatment and fairness across all genders. She strives to raise awareness about the multifaceted roles women play today, extending far beyond the confines of the domestic sphere. These include granting women the opportunity to ascend the corporate ladder, participate in activities previously held “masculine,” and most importantly, assume leadership roles while wholeheartedly believing in their own capabilities.
“In recent times, we’ve witnessed remarkable strides as women break through barriers in domains traditionally dominated by men, whether it’s corporate leadership or sports. The ascent of women to prominent leadership positions serves as a powerful testament to their competence and ability to redefine norms. This widespread acceptance and encouragement of women in leadership roles set the stage for a society that embraces diversity and inclusivity.”