in store for South Africans in 2013, she had the following to say: “Like so many people around the world, we are currently suffering from an economic malaise. As a society, we are almost close to a tipping point. The dozens of ‘service protests’, some of which like Sasolburg, De Doorns and Marikana, are making the news, ultimately all reflect the frustrations and fears of our communities. If leaders, whether political or in institutions, business or trade unions, don’t find a way to reconnect with the people, 2013 may take us further from the path of building a new, winning and inclusive nation.”
When asked what keeps her up at night, Osman said that in her opinion, people are under severe stress globally. She believes that the global economic conditions are not there to drive growth to the point where these stresses will be relieved or alleviated, and so, unless we as South Africans find it in ourselves to tackle these problems together, as a nation, we’ll slide back further. Osman says “We already have a huge social dichotomy. Our Gini coefficient of 0.63 in 2011, has worsened by all indications” She says that while we know that a certain level of inequality stimulates growth, the rampant growth in inequality over the last 20 years in South Africa will inevitably lead to escalations in social strife.
Being responsible for governance and compliance and an engineer by training, Osman believes in individual accountability, clear processes and efficient systems. “Although I am no longer directly and actively involved in the mechanical engineering field, I am still proud of the projects that I was involved in such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) SA project and the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) project. Both big-science infrastructure projects have increased the profile of South Africa and have created downstream benefits for the economy. South Africa was awarded the larger share of the Square Kilometre Array telescope project. Over the past few months, many contracts have been awarded to local suppliers for the delivery of bulk infrastructure and other key deliverables, which are creating jobs and increasing investment in the local infrastructure baseline,” highlights Osman.
When asked about her role models, she said “Over time, I have been blessed with meeting many people, who have had a positive and enduring influence on my life. Most notably, what I have learnt from my grandmother and my mother is how women can have a dignified self-assurance. My brother, again, demonstrates to me the pricelessness of the loving support of a strong male figure. My best friend has taught me courage in the way she handles adversity, and another very dear friend has challenged me to be a better version of myself through his example of humility and humanity. I can’t pick just one person, since I reflect a mosaic of lessons and good intentions,” she articulates.
In all the positions that the hard-working Osman has held over time, she considers teamwork to have been of paramount importance. Currently, she is working with a diverse team of highly skilled, amazing people who hail from different academic and social backgrounds and various professional levels. She is constantly impressed by what they accomplish and by the level of care and respect they share.
“We could not achieve excellence if it were not for this dynamic and energetic team environment,” she concludes.
Focus on Excellence - MIW
Faranah Osman is the Executive Director of Corporate Governance at the National Research Foundation and says that she believes that building a dynamic and robust National System of Innovation will result in the national challenges being addressed in a sustainable manner.
When asked about personal growth, Osman said; “Since taking up my position, I have been challenged at a professional level to tap into some of my strengths and adapt my set of skills to influence the workplace for the better. As with any change, this type of career tested my personal resilience and flexibility. Any professional will tell you that the hardest thing when you are performance-driven is to maintain a sense of self and carve out some sort of time to appreciate the successes along the way.
I have made peace with the fact that my life will continue to be a work in progress. Accepting that as truth means that I can focus on priorities with no anxiety. When CEO Magazine asked Osman, what she believed was
Calling for a Collective Effort
by Nomia Machebe