Durban University of Technology (DUT) approved the ENVISION2030 Living Values Framework. The five values are identified as transparency, honesty, integrity, respect and accountability. The principles espoused are fairness, professionalism, commitment, compassion and excellence. DUT’s Communications team, Simangele Zuma spoke to Odwa Mahlungulu, Administrative Assistant in the Disability Rights Unit.
Q: Kindly tell me about your role at DUT?
A: “I am an Administrative Assistant working within the Disability Rights Unit, which operates under the Student Counselling and Health Unit. My role encompasses various crucial functions. These include advocating for the rights of individuals with disabilities, orchestrating events to foster awareness and inclusivity, producing informative articles, managing administrative tasks, facilitating access to essential information, and securing mobility accommodations for students with disabilities (SWD).
Q: How long have you been a member of the DUT family?
A: “I have been associated with DUT since 2015, I initially joined during my undergraduate studies. In 2016, I undertook my Work Integrated Learning (WIL) at the Disability Rights Unit and subsequently completed my studies, graduating in 2017. Following a period of absence, I re-engaged with DUT in 2021, initially assuming the position of a student assistant. Subsequently, in 2022, I transitioned to the role of an Administrative Assistant. In total, my tenure with the organisation amounts to approximately six years.”
Q: Amongst the mentioned ENVISION2030 Living Values and Principles, which one do you mostly associate with and why?
A: “Amongst the ENVISION2030 Living Values and Principles, I find transparency particularly compelling. Transparency fosters openness and honesty, which are essential in building trust and fostering effective communication. It enables me to make well-informed decisions, it promotes accountability, and contributes to a culture of integrity. Ultimately, transparency serves as a cornerstone for ethical conduct and meaningful engagement within DUT.”
Q: What are your views on the new DUT tagline: Creative. Distinctive. Impactful.
A: “The new DUT tagline: Creative. Distinctive. Impactful. encapsulates the essence of the institution’s ethos and aspirations. ‘Creative’ signifies the culture of innovation and originality that DUT seeks to foster, emphasising the importance of fresh ideas and imaginative solutions in academic and professional endeavours. ‘Distinctive’ conveys the uniqueness and individuality that DUT aims to cultivate, emphasising the institution’s commitment to setting itself apart through its approach and offerings. ‘Impactful’ underscores DUT’s focus on making a meaningful and positive difference, reinforcing its dedication to generating tangible and lasting effects within the academic, social, and professional spheres. This tagline accurately reflects the institution’s identity and sets a clear direction for its future endeavours.”
Q: How are you planning to keep abreast with the ENVISION2030 Living Values Framework?
A: “An effective approach to staying aligned with the ENVISION2030 Living Values Framework involves ongoing education, regular self-assessment, and active participation in activities that resonate with the framework’s values and principles. This may include attending relevant workshops and training sessions, engaging in open discussions about the values, and consistently integrating them into decision-making processes and daily interactions. Additionally, incorporating the values into daily practices will be essential for ensuring that they remain at the forefront of the institutional culture.”
Q: What is the one thing that most people do not know about you?
A: “I originate from an agricultural background, with my family actively engaged in farming and cattle farming. Consequently, I am proficient in performing veterinary duties and possess the skills necessary for cultivating fruits, flowers and vegetables.”
Q: In your opinion, how will the ENVISION2030 Living Values Framework benefit DUT?
A: “The ENVISION2030 Living Values Framework holds the potential to yield substantial benefits for DUT by serving as a guiding compass for the institution’s culture, operations, and interactions. Embracing this framework can foster a workplace environment characterised by transparency, integrity, respect, accountability, and compassion, thereby promoting a sense of trust, cohesion, and ethical conduct among stakeholders. By anchoring decision-making processes and organisational practices in these values, DUT can cultivate a community that prioritises inclusivity, ethical considerations, and social responsibility. Ultimately, embracing the ENVISION2030 Living Values Framework has the capacity to enhance DUT’s reputation, fortify its relationships with stakeholders, and instil a culture of integrity and impact, aligning the institution with its broader societal and ethical responsibilities.”
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: “During my spare time, I spend quality time with my family. I enjoy culinary arts, experimenting with diverse cuisines and recipes. Additionally, I engage in entrepreneurial activities by selling chili sauces and providing catering and event decoration services for occasions such as weddings and children’s birthdays.”
Q: How do you plan to make a positive impact at DUT?
A: “The positive impact that I want to make is as follows:
- Take part in community service initiatives to establish a positive presence for DUT in the surrounding community. This could involve volunteering at local schools, organising charity events, or collaborating with community organisations.
- Advocate for environmentally friendly practices within the institution, such as recycling programmes, energy-saving initiatives, and sustainable procurement. Work with relevant departments to implement sustainable practices.
- Offer mentorship to students, providing guidance and support to help them navigate their academic and professional journeys. This could involve participating in mentorship programs or offering individual mentorship to students in need.
- Support and promote diversity and inclusion efforts within the institution, fostering an environment where all students and staff feel valued and respected. This could involve organisingdiversity training, cultural events, or initiatives to support underrepresented groups.
- Advocate for and facilitate the implementation of wellness programmes aimed at supporting the mental and physical well-being of students and staff. This could include wellness workshops, fitness programmes, and mental health support initiatives.”
Q: What is your daily motivation?
A: “My primary source of daily motivation stems from my children. Each morning, I am driven to ensure that every endeavour I undertake is geared towards securing a bright and promising future for them.”
Q: What are your future goals at DUT?
A: “My primary objective is to secure permanent employment, following which I plan to pursue further studies. Presently, I am dedicated to the completion of my Postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations and Communications Management Sciences.”
Q: If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
A: “The restoration of the earth to its natural state. It is imperative to ensure the well-being of future generations, enabling them to inherit a planet that is conducive to their health and prosperity.”