Dr. Patience Mpofu intricately braids strands of memoir, cultural and social history, mining insights, and career advice in Unleashing My Superpowers. As a Zimbabwean-born South African citizen with Lemba heritage, young Mpofu’s community believed that education and career achievements weren’t as valuable for women. Yet, she earned a PhD in mineral processing and served in multiple high profile senior executive positions in top South African and Australian mining companies.
Named “Patience” because her parents needed that trait while longing for a son, she reveals how her beloved father married a second wife in the quest for a boy—an anecdote that sets the stage for the cultural tribulations she faced while achieving global, award-winning success in a male-dominated industry while raising a son as a single mother.
Mpofu shares personal and career triumphs and fears honestly, offering guidance for ambitious women with special insights for black women and those pursuing STEM careers.
The best parts of the book center on Mpofu’s descriptions of her background and how she navigated her way to leadership positions despite limiting belief systems about women’s career potential in an industry largely controlled by white males. It’s inspiring to see how she faced gender- and racial-based challenges without resorting to excuses as she examined her own contributions to career roadblocks.
The exercises she recommends for readers are, unfortunately, commonly shared ones such as thinking about three things that make you feel grateful and to set SMART (specific, measurable, achieving, realistic, and time bound) goals. She refers readers to her coaching website for more specifics; although this may be a good online traffic-driving marketing strategy for her, exercise sections could have used more heft in the book.
This book is encouraging for females considering a STEM career or who face glass ceilings because of race and/or gender.
Also available as a hardback and as a paperback