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People - Illovo sugar

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People - Grad girl in china

Patience Ntuli

Assistant Production Manager

Eston, South Africa

The Faces of AB Sugar
Patience Ntuli Assistant Production Manager Eston, South Africa

Patience joined Illovo Sugar South Africa (Illovo) as a trainee in 2005/06 and shortly after was awarded a bursary to study a BTEC in Chemical Engineering. Since then she has worked through various training programmes, spent time in three factories across the KwaZulu-Natal region before settling at the Eston sugar mill in her current role.

We find out what excites Patience about working in factory operations and why diversity is key to feeling fulfilled at work.

“Looking back to when I first joined the company as a trainee; I realise how far I’ve come, what I’ve achieved and the skills I’ve continued to develop over the last 15 years. Alongside this, I’ve also seen the company transforming and it’s allowed me to be a part of that transformation by investing in my training over the years. From being awarded a bursary to study my BTEC, to being accepted onto the Engineer in Training (EIT) programme. There is a lot of investment at the foundational stages of those just starting out in their careers, which I think is extremely important to set future employees up to grow within the business.”

Staying fulfilled

Patience continues: “I feel lucky to get to do what I do. It’s very diverse in terms of the people within our teams, but also the products that we produce. This mix forces you to think broader than the factories ‘four walls’, to be dynamic and flexible to change. I enjoy that type of environment for myself and find it exciting.”


“Working within factory operations also allows me to see the full business impact across our supply chain, from inbound to outbound; grower to customer. I know that what we produce in the factory from the raw sugar cane coming in on the trucks, to processing sugar and other co-products, provides our variety of customers with what they need. I may not achieve this insight within other roles. That’s why I really enjoy working in the world of sugar, as a trained chemical engineer.

Patience continues to explain why her current role suits her interests: “My role as Assistant Production Manager is to ensure operational targets are met which incorporates a lot of planning and identifying risks that may impact on us reaching agreed KPIs. It includes effective communication from the highest level to the team leaders of different disciplines. When we do reach those targets, it’s the best feeling and I go home happy.

Looking ahead to the future

Patience concludes: “I hope that we see more diversity in the coming years, for example more female engineers coming through. I believe there is a gap to fill in this area and I hope we become more of the trend setters and not the followers when it comes to this.”

To find out more about Illovo Sugar Africa please visit their website.  

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