How many of us knew what we wanted to be in life at the age of 13 and stuck to it? My guess is not too many! Svetlana Loubser, however, knew exactly what she wanted to be from her first day in the accounting class at high school.

“I ate, drank, and slept figures and have not regretted my decision once,” she says. “I firmly believe that you should do what you love, not what your family or society want you to do. Too many bright students end up not having a qualification or a job because they studied in a field that was forced upon them.”

Born and bred in Rehoboth, the second of five siblings, Loubser matriculated at the famous Dr Lemmer High School, after which she did a BCom at UNAM, majoring in Accounting and Economics. From there, she worked in various financial roles in sectors ranging from insurance, oil and gas and financial services to the non-profit sector before settling in mining.

Today, Loubser is the Financial Manager at Osino Resources, owner of the Twin Hills Gold Project in Namibia, a role she has held for the past two and a half years and “really enjoys”.

“At Osino, apart from my financial duties, I also take care of the company’s HR and remuneration functions in conjunction with an outsourced third party,” she says.

Loubser believes her determination and ambition have been instrumental in her success, from persevering to finish her studies to balancing a busy professional life with family demands.

“I have a high level of self-control and focus in my work and personal life. I managed to raise my children while working full time, commuting 180km per day to and from work for 20 years and still studying short courses in between,” she says.

I managed, because I had a great support system in my husband, parents, and parents-in-law. I was privileged.

“I have five beautiful children, all young adults now. While they were all still at school, it was not always easy for me! My husband was a rugby player and was often away from home. This means I would get home at 18h30 and still have to run errands, drop my domestic worker off at home, cook meals every night, and help my children with homework – all on my own. On top of that, I would attend school parent meetings in the evenings. I am proud that I have not missed one meeting in 21 years as a school parent!”

Loubser says such pressures teach you excellent time management and project management skills. “I was driven by my determination to be a dedicated, connected, and present mom and a successful career woman at the same time.”

Working in the traditionally male-dominated field of mining has added additional pressures over the years, she admits. “Sometimes one feels like an outsider, or you feel excluded. You have to grow a thick skin, be confident, not react unnecessarily, but express yourself when necessary. “Once we own our space as women, and prove that we are experts in our field, there is no way we can be overlooked or ignored,” she says.

She adds that too many women in the workplace are just happy to have a job and accept their male colleagues as superior, but more need to step up, especially in male-dominated industries. Diversity is good for business, she says.

“Women can bring a lot to a team, and more so in industries that have typically excluded women, whether intentionally or not. A woman’s voice is incredibly valuable because we think differently from men, and bring a different angle to the discussion.” Loubser advises women wanting to get into a profession like hers to study hard and work harder.

“To thrive, you must believe in yourself and never underestimate yourself. Never stop learning, including from your male colleagues. Also, gather in sisterhood; spend time with confident and positive women, and support and motivate each other.”

Above all, she says, you must be prepared to bounce back from failure. As the late Nelson Mandela said: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.