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Nurturing Talent and Fostering Innovation: Mulenga Tembo’s Journey with FQM

Building an environment that fosters innovation and growth while simultaneously nurturing talent is no small feat for any organization. Mulenga Tembo’s journey to becoming FQM Trident’s first-ever female Technical Training Manager is a testament to the transformative power of the mining company’s faith in its employees and its commitment to upskilling local talent. 

Born to a father who was a colonel in the Zambia Army and a mother who was a secretary, Mulenga is the youngest of five sisters. Growing up in Lusaka, she attended St. Mary’s Primary School before moving to Kabulonga Girls Secondary School, where she completed grade 12. She then pursued and obtained a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Zambia Insurance Business College Trust (ZIBCT).

From a young age, Mulenga demonstrated a thirst for knowledge and a drive for success. These qualities would shape her professional journey, marked by resilience, determination, and a commitment to excellence. Her can-do attitude and problem-solving skills soon caught the attention of her supervisor at Zambia’s largest copper mine.  

In 2017, Mulenga joined FQM, attracted by the promise of new horizons and fresh challenges. Little did she know that her arrival would set the wheels in motion for a pivotal moment in the company’s history. Her entry into the mining sector was serendipitous, finding herself in the training department of the multinational corporation. It was here she discovered her true calling: training and development.

“Training and development are something that I’ve always been passionate about. When I came to Kalumbila, I was initially a Human Resources (HR) generalist, doing all things that a generalist would do in HR,” she recalls.

Despite the demanding nature of the work, Mulenga’s determination never wavered. She embraced each challenge as an opportunity to prove her worth and showcase her expertise.

“Mining is not for the faint-hearted. So, it’s rough and tough, but I think women still have a place in mining and we belong here as well,” she said. 

Fast forward a few years, and Mulenga’s exceptional skills in specialization over generalization did not go unnoticed. Recognizing her unique strengths, the HR Manager assigned her to lead one of the Centre of Excellence units focused on resource and talent management development.

In 2022, Mulenga’s dedication and expertise earned her a promotion to Technical Training Manager at FQM Trident. Over the past eighteen months, she has spearheaded initiatives to revolutionize employee development at the mine, setting new industry standards and enhancing the company’s reputation for nurturing local talent.

FQM Trident’s commitment to developing local talent is evident in Mulenga’s journey. With a background in business administration and a deep-seated passion for training and development, Mulenga brings a unique blend of expertise and empathy to her position. Her rise within the company underscores FQM’s dedication to recognizing and nurturing potential within its workforce.

Mulenga noted that becoming FQM Zambia’s first female training manager was not without its challenges; earning respect and recognition as a professional among her peers being one. Rather than being deterred, she was even more determined to make it work. She emphasized the importance of having one’s voice heard, being knowledgeable about one’s field, and having data on hand to contribute effectively to the team.

“I think I have been blessed in the sense that I have now come full circle, and I’m back where I strongly believe I belong – in the training department,” she stated. 

In her role, Mulenga prioritizes diversity and inclusion by developing training programs that cater to the diverse workforce at FQM Trident. She offers a range of training modalities, including on-the-job, classroom-based, and simulated training, ensuring every employee receives the support they need to excel in their roles.

One of her greatest achievements has been formulating a comprehensive training strategy aligned with the company’s vision and objectives. Through thorough planning and strategic implementation, she has spearheaded initiatives that empower employees and enhance organizational capabilities.

Mulenga’s dedication to continuous improvement has resulted in a training cycle synchronized with the company’s business cycle, ensuring maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

“As a department, our approach to designing and implementing training programs is aimed at ensuring that they meet the needs of a diverse workforce like ours. The first thing that we do is identify what our business is looking to achieve after the new year. From there, we look at employees and what areas they may be lacking in or need further training.

We have people from all walks of life and with different educational backgrounds. Because of that, it can sometimes be very challenging to carry out training. But we’re happy to say that we can meet them halfway by ensuring that there is a training platform for everybody,” she explained. 

Mulenga’s story is not just about her personal success; it is also about FQM Trident Limited’s broader mission to upskill local talent and develop skills within Zambia. By investing in training and development, the company is creating opportunities for local employees to advance their careers and contribute to the nation’s growth. This commitment to local talent is a cornerstone of FQM’s operations and a key driver of its success. 

A strong support system helps to keep Mulenga grounded despite the demanding nature of her role. She thrives in an environment where collaboration and camaraderie reign supreme. Balancing her work and home life is made easier when surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues who uplift and inspire her.

“I’m so blessed that I have a great husband and a lovely son who support everything that I do. I’ve got sisters who listen to me when I get overwhelmed, a great housekeeper assisting me at home, and one or two friends that keep me sane. They allow me to laugh at myself and encourage me through some of the mistakes that I make on this journey. So, it’s just a well-rounded support system that allows me to do what I do,” she stated. 

At the core of Mulenga’s leadership philosophy lies a profound belief in service and selflessness: “Leadership is not a title but a responsibility—a responsibility to serve, inspire, and empower others.” With this servant’s heart and visionary mindset, Mulenga navigates the daily complexities of the mining industry, driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence and a deep-seated desire to make a difference.

She looks to the future with a steadfastness rooted in her commitment to fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, and continuous learning.

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