UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL WITH MS SELINAH MAHLANGU, THE NEWLY APPOINTED HEAD OF FACULTY ADMINISTRATION IN THE FACULTY OF MANAGEMENT SCIENCES
By: Nontobeko Moimane- 22 March 2023
If ‘working your way up’ was a person, that would be Ms Selinah Mahlangu, who has recently been appointed as the Head of Faculty Administration in the Faculty of Management Sciences at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) – effective from 01 March 2023.
But who is Selina Mahlangu? From humble beginnings, she started working at VUT in 1996 as an Admin Assistant, then later became an Administrator within the Marketing and Business Management departments. Due to her hard work and commitment, she was later promoted to Senior Administrator in the Executive Dean’s office in 2005.
In 2010, she was seconded as a Coordinator for the multi-million Rand Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) Project. VUT was one of the lead universities appointed to offer the Executive Development Programme (EDP) – a skills development programme that allowed senior officials from Government departments to improve their vertical qualifications by completing the process at these accredited universities. When the project came to an end in June 2015, she took the position of Acting Head: Faculty Administration till date.
She holds four formal qualifications: A secretarial Diploma; National Diploma, BTech and Masters of Management in Marketing. She has also achieved accreditation as a Professional Academic Advisor from the University of Free State.
About her enthusiasm to further her studies as a working mother:
- What inspired you to pursue a Master’s?
At one stage, one feels stale and needs to achieve more in life. This is the reason why I pursued a Master’s qualification with encouragement from my previous Executive Dean: Prof Roy Dhurup. He believed in me and felt that I have the potential and ability to reach greater heights.
- Being a woman, working and a parent, how did you manage your time to ensure that you complete your Master’s?
I am a single widowed parent, and my children are not that young anymore. Most of my research work from literature study until the end was done during the 2020 – 2021 lockdown season. I managed to dedicate a minimum of 4 to 6 hours maximum daily for my research. Even if I only researched and read, I would make sure that I complete at least one paragraph for that specific day – just to know that I have done something towards the fulfilment of my desired qualification.
- What’s the one thing that you enjoyed the most while pursuing your Master’s?
Being engaged in research and getting it right. The knowledge that comes with it and the fact that your final product will be a contribution to the discovery or development of something that will be recognised or change someone else’s life. The fact that someone will quote my work as I was quoting some of my colleagues and researchers, gave me more zeal.
Despite the challenges she faced while pursuing her qualification, she was determined and optimistic about achieving the desired qualification.
The best thing about her qualification is that she is now a source of inspiration to her children, nieces, colleagues, and friends. “Obtaining a vertical qualification can open doors that one thought impossible. Coupled with experience, my qualification can expand my skill set and improve my chances of career progression. Moreover, it made me realise, love real research, and not perceive it as the monster I thought it was. I have submitted my first article to be published in an accredited journal” she said.
She advises students who are eager to pursue a Master’s qualification: “Master’s is a different approach to normal course work. You need to be fully prepared and know that your progress depends on your ability. The Supervisor will only take you to the river if you are prepared to drink the water. Communication with the supervisor is of utmost importance because he knows best and can only guide you if you rise to the challenge. You need to take criticism from the supervisors constructively as this can only make you want to make a better submission soon” she added.
She draws her inspiration from Ms Lucia Mokotsi. She mentioned that she was her mentor when she was doing her practicals in college. Ms Mokotsi was a Secretary at Sasol at the time, and she was her apprentice. “I would take over her desk when she went on study leave. She saw potential in me and nurtured me under her wings. If you are willing, she will make you the best you can be. No wonder now the Marketing qualifications” she alluded.
Ms Mahlangu said she will forever be grateful to her supervisor, Prof Roy Dhurup for encouraging her to embark on the academic journey which she thought impossible. “I am grateful for his honest comments, valuable inputs, guidance and advice throughout. Most sincere gratitude to Prof Chengedzai Mafini, the Executive Dean: Faculty of Management Sciences for sharing his research expertise while he held my hand and guided me each step of the way”, she concluded.
The proud mother of two, a girl (Mpho) and a boy (Kingsley), Selina has been described by her colleagues not only as a dependable ally but a true as people’s person and a sister. She is a staunch Christian who values others’ beliefs and religious denominations.
She lives by the quote: “We don’t have to be perfect today. We don’t have to be better than someone else. All we have to do is to be the very best we can” Joseph B. Winthlin