Today we’re doing our very first collaboration profile and we’re profiling two aerial surveyors based in Hatfield, Keneuoe Maliehe and Retsebile Sekhukhune from CAD Mapping Aerial Surveyors. Kene and Rets, as they’re affectionately known, met during varsity at the University of the Free State in 2007. They had mutual friends with whom they occasionally hung out with and engaged in social activities together. A decade later, both of them with a more focused vision on personal growth, started talking more business opportunities than social agendas.

It was after Keneuoe had returned from her postgraduate studies abroad that she engaged Retsebile on a disruptive technology that she was raising funds for. Retsebile then had several meetings with the CAD Mapping management team until the two teams decided that there were more than enough synergies for them to form a formidable team.

Keneuoe was born in Lesotho and lived in Bloemfontein during her high school years at Brebner High School and throughout her varsity days at the University of the Free State where she met Retsebile. Thereafter she moved to Johannesburg and worked in a number of industries namely sport, music and consulting engineering as she tried to find her place in the world and what set her soul on fire. Not happy with where she was and where her life was going, she decided to reinvent herself and in 2014 went back to university to pursue studies in geoinformatics. She has not looked back since. She completed her Bachelor of Science in geography at the University of Pretoria in 2016 and a Bachelor of Science (honors) in geoinformatics the year after. In January 2018 she completed postgraduate studies in engineering photogrammetry and surveying in Karlsruhe, Germany. The skills acquired in all these educational programs combined with the experience gained throughout her career in the different industries set her on a path to becoming a shareholder and CEO of CAD Mapping today.

Retsebile was born and raised in Lebowakgomo, in the Limpopo province, where she also acquired her matric certificate at Commercial College. She further went in pursuit of a Bachelor of Commerce in economics at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. She is an economist and marketing specialist by trade and qualification and is a founder of the following business entities: Elevani Pty Ltd, a construction and consulting firm, Urban Lane (Pty) Ltd, a social consulting firm and Essenix Beauty which is a vanity business. She is also a shareholder at CAD Mapping, where her role entails business development. She owes her expertise in business to her five years experience in the field of project management at the City of Tshwane. She thereafter worked as an independent project manager on several projects which eventually led her to leaving employment and focusing on business.

CAD Mapping services the following industries in their day-to-day business; mining, consulting engineering, transportation, energy, agriculture and forestry in the provision of GIS and CAD-ready ortho-photos, LiDAR point cloud data, digital mapping products, advanced 3D models and renderings of structures, to name a few. For something as intricate as this, Kene and Rets have obviously come across some challenges in their industry including the massive barrier to entry being the significant initial capital outlay that the aerial surveying business requires as the vast majority of aerial surveying technology is sourced from international suppliers/manufacturers. Access to funding has been the single biggest challenge for rolling out some technological solutions in their business. The second would be the poor uptake of spatial data on the entire African continent. As a result, they have to invest a lot of money into educating the market about new solutions first before they can realise any sales.

And lastly, being women in massive leadership roles in a male-dominated industry in itself has proven to be a challenge. “We are expected to be dunderheads and clueless. And when we do get attention, it is for the wrong reasons. So, the first 5-10 minutes of meeting someone, we spend wasting time breaking this barrier, proving that we are not just pretty faces”,  the two businesswomen say.

On the achievements they are most proud of, Keneuoe says “Obtaining my Bachelor of Science in 2016 with a GPA of 78% whilst working full time has been my greatest achievement. Thereafter completing my semester abroad successfully and scoring 1, the equivalent of 100% in the South Africa system, for engineering photogrammetry in the third semester of the MSc Geomatics program at the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. Coming from Africa, with an almost non-existent programming background, the latter was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.”

Retsebile says “Throughout my employment days I learnt that communication skills to build relationships and forming a bond with potential clients is important. I was tasked with what I termed ‘damage control’ and with that I managed to convey the benefits of having us as a service provider to multiple clients. I was delighted to bring on board such lucrative clients that became the companies’ biggest client. I have since learnt that communication is one of my biggest strengths which I am still leveraging on.”

Their discerning characters and similarities in the way they carry themselves both in the workspace and social environment is what makes them a team that rocks. The only difference in their characters is that Keneuoe is more of an office person and Retsebile is more on the client facing side of things but their collaborative effort makes them a winning team.

On their dreams for the future, Retsebile hopes to become a board member on both parastatals and big corporates where she will further drive economic transformation. Keneuoe hopes to pursue an MBA in business intelligence and automation and to start a few foundations namely a school of arts and a crisis center for women. Together, they both hope to see CAD Mapping become a multi-national operation that employs and empowers the sharpest minds in the industry, with a huge majority of them being women. “We are huge supporters of girl leaders and in all the initiatives and programmes that we are driving, we strive for at least 75% of the beneficiaries to be women,” they concluded.