Welcome to another instalment of Womenomics. 🙂
Nothing short of dynamite, with a unique career as Africa’s First Female Dredge Master, also known as Blaqmermaid, is a ship Navigator; everyone, meet Londy Ngcobo, a mom, wife and overall powerhouse.
Londy is also the founder of Mamasescapeclub, a community micro-blog that seeks to simplify a mother’s life by engaging in parenting & lifestyle discussions, motivation, product recommendations and events to help mothers find balance through the perks and woes of motherhood.
Why do they call you Mzansi’s Blackmermaid?
This started as a nickname back in 2007 very early in my career as a ship navigator in training, I guess being the only black female on the ships I worked back then called for a title, it sounded cool and fitting for a 19 year old and it has stuck with me since.
Where did you grow up, and how has this shaped your outlook on life, insofar as success in concerned?
I was born in Durban, I grew up in Clermont Township and went to school there where Maritime studies was introduced to me, I had a very active childhood and I think that’s when my adventurous personality was kind of realized.
My parents were supportive through all my adventures leading up to the exchanged student programs to London (Leeds) at age 13 and 14 with very little spoken English but I remember having lots of fun and many friends there haha.. And the enrollment in Maritime Studies without even knowing how to swim. My school was already warming up to the “girl power” as I was voted a Student’s Representative Council President. I think much of my upbringing still filters a lot into the decisions I make in my life and that is the willingness to simply give life a shot.
What are some of your main passions and why are they important to you?
I have always been someone who enjoys bringing out the best out of people surrounding me at any time, whether it’s through fruitful or funny conversations or just fun activities, I really find joy seeing people around me genuinely happy or leaving my space happier than they came, however that can easily be mistaken for a “people pleaser” but I still can’t seem to shake it off so with time I realized it’s really not a bad thing because It feeds my spirit positively and enables me to focus more on the good things in life, therefore I chose to embrace it more through Mamas Escape Club motivating moms not to forget themselves in motherhood but rather find themselves and keep soaring through diapers, deadlines and dinner preps. so “good vibes” is definitely my first passion.
The second one has to be craft and events execution, I have quite a creative eye and love to explore my ideas to life, this one I get embrace through MEC events and generally my home décor, friends and family events.
Another passion of mine almost ties up to my first one and that is women and youth empowerment. I find it so fulfilling seeing and helping other women succeed whether it’s in business, careers or life in general and I embrace this through Blaqmermaid where I get invited to speak, motivate, MC, coach, mentor or simply attend discussions. Besides the selfies and good food, the feedback I get from women, the youth that I connect with really is remarkable and heartwarming just to know that by simply being myself, telling my story, and sharing my views, I am able to touch at least a few lives.
Tell us more about Mamas Escape Club. When was it founded, and what inspired the idea?
Upon our decision to start a family my husband and I knew it would be difficult for me to go back to sea leaving the baby at home but I was blessed to land in a new land based position as a Marine Compliance Manager just in time, however this transition took a lot of effort out of me trying to adjust on a 9-5 job, It meant driving through traffic daily, the new office environment with the screen in my face all day and endless meetings, preparing lunch packs and making dinner, plus the pregnancy all which was pretty new to me.
This got worse when my maternity leave ended I felt really swamped, so I used to Google a lot of what other new moms do to balance life but it all sounded too perfect, I needed an interaction from different kinds of backgrounds and family structures but most importantly I needed a breaaakkk….. So I decided to start a page and called it Mamas Escape Club and the response shocked me. June 2018 marked a year and we have had a couple of events and continue to share our real motherhood stories embracing the importance of me-time (“ESCAPE”) I have made a lot of good online friends through this community and we continue to grow each other as moms.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Early to rise and early to bed – that’s me.
Up at 3:30 am – 5:30 am I find early mornings to be the best for work
5:30 am – 06:00 am is for meditation / read a book / workout which ever feels right
06:00 – 07:00 work / school preps and out the door.
08:00 -15:30 Office
16:30 – 18:00 dinner and bed time preps (all while we catch up)
18:00 – 1930 more catchup and then we turn in.
What are some of the challenges you face in your current role as a Marine Compliance Manager – more specifically as a female in this role?
My role includes a lot of training and auditing so as to ensure international compliance is achieved and maintained by our seafarers. This means auditing much older male employees who as commonly known tend to resist orders not only from younger ranks but also female ranks, I am both and being short just kills it completely haha.. However I do think that my personally helps a lot in getting things done the most respectful yet productive way possible.
My other challenge being a young female in a leadership committee by the age of 28 years, I have had to work a little bit harder for my voice to be heard and my decisions to be respected. Again, I think my annoying and bubbly personality came through my vibrant presentations and kind of grabbed a bit of attention in boardrooms, however I am now comfortable knowing that my contribution to the business speaks for itself over my gender.
You’re a working mom and wife. Share with us how you find and maintain the balance between the various roles fulfill.
If there is a mother and wife who has mastered this, please connect us lol… otherwise I think it’s all push and pull especially being full time working parents my husband and I, we both have very active lives exploring our potentials in becoming better people while raising a toddler, some months his calendar is full or mine and sometime they are both full at the same time lol… but we always make it work and we never fall short on family time, that to me is what matters the most and keeps us in check of our plans, dissatisfactions in general and motivates us to keep soaring knowing we have each other’s backs. There is no balance, it’s a continuous juggle, and one just needs identify where they draw the most strength from and stick to it.
What are your greatest accomplishments to date?
- The title Africa’s First Female Dredger Master seems to make it first wherever I go.
- Being awarded 2014’s youngest achiever by the Durban Premier was also cool
- Forming part of the leadership team by the age of 28 years was also quite a humbling surprise.
- Mamas Escape Club is closest to my heart as it unleashed a huge entrepreneurial potential in me that I had long suppressed.
- Being awarded a best Innovation award for introducing International compliance standards in 2017.
- SA rising star semi-finalist. That was fun.
Where to from here for Londy Ngcobo and her brands?
My focus this year is to learn more about myself and what I stand for as a woman and be open to unlearn certain habits that might hinder me from becoming that woman. My brands continue to grow with me, it is good enough that they finally exist, mine to maintain relevance in these fast changing times and ensure that the core message remains worthwhile to those who find it useful by appreciating the guidance I get from other entrepreneurs that I connect with.
What was the best financial advice you’ve ever received?
This keeps changing as I read and seek for more inspiration but earlier in the year I listened to a women motivation podcast on financial management and this year’s challenge is “A year of recycle” I decided to jump on this one since I too felt like most of my spending goes on to clothing (more now that I’m a mom) so starting with my own wardrobe where I’ve rediscovered my older clothing items and tried to make them work, it’s quite challenging though especially during social events so I have cheated a few times but definitely worth a try.
In your opinion, what are some of the barriers that prevent women from participating fully in their economies?
I read somewhere that 28% of women in executive seats suffer from impostor syndrome (chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence) and while this exists, patriarchy remains a challenge. In my view though, I think that the sooner organizations adopt flexible working patterns for women the better, considering the agility of technology which keeps breaking time and space barriers in any workplace. We need to find courage of conviction to flexible offices, remote working and teleworking in order for us to rock all our hats guilt free. It looks promising though seeing that some of the corporates have implemented it.
What is your favorite quote and why?
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes YOU COME ALIVE and go do just that because the world needs people who have come alive” – Oprah. Winfrey.
I love it because I have seen it happen to me where with most of the ventures that I have attempted to explore whether in business or my career, they either succeeded because I found enjoyment from deep within or failed because they was just-not-me.
Besides this quote, I try to live by the Desiderata – Max Ehrmann 1927 as my life mantra, it’s everything I hope to achieve in life and hopefully raise my kids by.
Name a book you’re currently reading / name a book that made the most impact on you.
I’m actually reading a book called Entrepreneurship guide. However, the book that came at the right time and left a significant mark has to be Lean In by Cheryl Sandburg.
- Favourite holiday destination – Yazi I don’t have any, I think maybe it’s because I have traveled a bit and my husband thinks it’s perfect because wherever he goes I will just follow lol… I guess any scenic destination where I can just unwind is perfect.
- One fun fact about you – I’m an extreme day dreamer, as in CASTLES-IN-THE-HEAD all day kind of girl… and being bubbly doesn’t help at all as I end up saying too many things at the same time, talking on the spot because my brain works way too fast it’s a hot mess lol…
- Are you part of any social communities in your city? – I am part of the South African Maritime Professionals Association. I sit in two Maritime training development boards at the Durban University of Technology and the Ethekwini Maritime Cluster. Others come as invites or as I see fit
Londy is reachable on the following platforms: