Table Mountain Cableway MD wins award honouring women lawyers in business
In the run-up to Women’s Day, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) managing director Wahida Parker has been honoured with a Woza Award, in the best corporate non-practising woman lawyer category, at a gala event in Sandton on Saturday 3 August 2019.
The Woza Awards, launched in February this year, is the brainchild of Rehana Khan Parker, who saw the need to recognise female lawyers across sectors for their dedication, achievements and contribution to the profession – from lawyers working in academia to those in IT, technology, education, human rights and the pro bono sector.
Parker, who has been at the helm of TMACC for the past three years, says in her category the adjudicators looked for a woman who used her law degree in the sphere of business to uplift, empower and engage, both with communities and with young, upcoming lawyers, offering them guidance, assistance and coaching.
“The whole purpose of the Woza Awards is to inspire women in the legal fraternity and to make them realise that even if you don’t fit into the court room with your law degree, you can actually find a space to operate in,” she explains.
Parker says team engagement is sometimes lacking in the legal profession. “Lawyers can feel quite lonely in their practice and often struggle to work in teams – in business, teamwork is crucial and alleviate the sense of feeling alone.
“So, whether it is academia or whether it’s the boardroom, as in my case, they were looking for figureheads that could depict that transition from a legal background to the business world and show how you can still be successful using your legal background. I think heading up something as iconic as Table Mountain – being the MD of TMACC – is a powerful place to occupy,” she adds.
Parker is passionate about the possibilities that emerge when law is merged with another discipline, and the innovation that comes with it. This is something that has carried her through various roles, including being the general manager of the Golden Valley lodge and casino in Worcester, Western Cape.
Heading up an institution that in the past would very much have been male dominated, Parker is grateful to have had the TMACC MD baton passed down by a female predecessor, and she is well on her way to leaving her own remarkable legacy.
“The change that I’m hoping to bring about, and have already started to bring about, is making sure that the concept of this great natural wonder is in the hearts of every South African, especially locals,” she adds. “It’s about instilling the idea every local person is an ambassador.”
When it comes to overcoming the remaining barriers instituted by a more patriarchal way of managing things, she says the one thing she has tackled head-on is making the mountain more accessible for all.
It took a lot of engagement to come to a ticketing solution that would make the mountain affordable to locals, she explains. “One of the things we did not want to do was to have our international visitors feel they’re being fleeced, because unfortunately in the past Cape Town had a reputation, where restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions were accused of increasing their prices during peak season.
“We had to navigate away from this. Locals get a free ticket up the mountain on their birthdays, and we’ve kept the rate for senior citizens and students really low. Our sunset special is certainly a big winner for Capetonians! By introducing this pricing strategy, we’ve achieved both our goals,” she adds.
Parker says Table Mountain should be viewed as “our” mountain, our heritage, our place for relaxation and sporting activities – ultimately, that place we go to when we’re soul searching. “There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re going to be very hard-pressed to find something more beautiful than the view from the top.”