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Q&A: 'When you do something you like, you are also extremely good at it' - Siemens exec

Aug 25 2019 14:53
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Doing something you love can become a force that drives you to success. That's what Sabine Dall'Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa believes.

The CEO's career at Siemens spans 25 years. After graduating in 1985 with a Higher Commercial Certificate from Heinrich-Thoene College, Dall'Omo did vocational training at Siemens Germany. Her journey at the company has led her to work at its various global operations, including Siemens US and Siemens China. Dall'Omo joined Siemens South Africa in 2004.

"Since then I have been here and I have not been sorry for one day," she told Fin24 in a telephonic interview.

Dall'Omo was appointed Chief Financial Officer of the Siemens Cluster Africa in 2012 and now oversees more than 100 businesses in SA in her role as CEO.

Dall'Omo is also President of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the board chairperson for Siemens Nigeria, and oversees Siemens South Africa's Employee Share Ownership Program. She also holds board positions at the German-Africa Association and the Impilo Consortium.

She shared with Fin24 why she chose to get involved in the tech space and how she's made her mark in a male-dominated field.

Fin24: Why did you decide to start your career at Siemens?

Dall'Omo: In school I always liked science and technology. That always intrigued me, so when I started looking for jobs I only looked for companies which do something great.

At the time I started at Siemens' power plant division in Germany, I thought it was very fascinating to see how things come together. Ever since then I have enjoyed working for Siemens.

Fin24: What do you think can be done to improve female representation in the sector?

Dall'Omo: It is important to give girls the opportunity to understand how an engineering or technical company works. They need real exposure of what the business is about.

An interest in technical work can be created with anybody, regardless of their gender, it just needs to make sense to you.

There are simple things which can be done, for example at a site where a project is erected there needs to be dedicated washrooms for women. Luckily in SA there is legislation which makes provisions that make it possible for women to be in the workforce.

Fin24: What would you tell your younger self?

Dall'Omo: I would say try it out, get a feel for it. Try to be as good as you can and find out what you really like.

When you start a job, you need to have joy. When you do something you really like, then you are also extremely good at it. That is what I believe is important.

Fin24: What is your message to women?

Dall'Omo: If you want to make a difference in your work life, start today, start with yourself. Try to be the person you would like to be treated as. As you start on yourself it will reflect on others and then you will effectively multiply yourself.

Hopefully if you have more interactions with others, there will be a lot more transformed colleagues and family members.

Fin24: Which country have you enjoyed working in the most?

Dall'Omo: South Africa, definitely. I have been everywhere and South Africa is a really great place to be. South Africans are a great bunch of people. Working here is an absolute privilege. 

*This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

siemens  |  germany  |  china  |  south africa  |  berlin  |  engineering  |  digital  |  technology  |  business  |  women
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