Phatheka Mbambiso, current acting agro-processing research group leader, joined the CSIR in June 2015 as a researcher in the bioprospecting and agro-processing competency area. Prior to that, she had worked in the cosmetics industry.
“I started my career at Johnson and Johnson in January 2000 as a research and development trainee; in November 2001 I became a product development chemist until April 2004. From there I moved to Sensient Colours where I spent only two years, 2004 to 2006, as a technical controller,” says Phatheka.
Her career was fast tracked in 2006, when she was appointed as a project manager at Avroy Shlain cosmetics, until April 2015. Little did she know that this position was preparing her for greater things at the CSIR.
Phatheka’s job at the CSIR
In November 2015, only six months into her position, Phatheka was appointed acting research group leader for the CSIR’s agro-processing group.
“I spend most of my time at work looking for better solutions and technological innovations to address skin and hair concerns for example oily skin, dry skin and unmanageable hair. This includes doing literature reviews, formulation design, project management and liaising with external clients, especially the BIDC programme supported SMMEs”, explains Phatheka
The BIDC supports SMMEs to develop biotechnology-based processes and products that meet customer requirements within short time frames to exploit existing market opportunities. Support covers new product development, ensuring regulatory compliance and small-scale manufacturing for market-testing and up-scaling.
Phatheka regards working with BIDC-supported SMMEs and seeing their products come into fruition as the best part of her job since it allows her to be part of the solution in job creation and poverty alleviation.
Phatheka was raised by her grandmother in the friendly city of Port Elizabeth (PE). She matriculated at Masiphathisane Senior Secondary School in PE, in 1994. She then moved to Cape Town to further her studies at the University of Cape Town where she completed a BSc degree, majoring in chemistry and applied chemistry.
Passion, an inquisitive mind-set, great communication skills and the ability to work well with people are some of the attributes that have contributed to Phatheka’s successful career.
Apart from being in the office, Phatheka enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading lifestyle magazines and autobiographies, as well as re-arranging and decorating her home, including working in the garden.