East London-born Zintle Mvana describes herself as a tomboy. She says that while growing up, she used to play with cars and never liked the “frustrating” Barbie doll because it could do nothing.
“I used to ask my mom to buy me remote control cars, and spend the whole day and night playing with it until the battery died,” she says.
On Wednesday, Zintle, 26, was named one of the Best Apprentices in the Volkswagen Group South Africa – an honour awarded annually to a handful of the company’s top young talents across the world.
Zintle has been with the company since February 2020, when she started as a graduate trainee while studying towards an honours degree in industrial and organisational psychology at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. She is currently employed as a training and development practitioner at VWSA’s Learning Academy in Uitenhage.
“This award means the world to me; it means that my efforts have been recognised,” says Zintle. “I always strive to perform at my highest level in whatever I do, so that is how I learn best – by giving it my all. This award means that my contribution to my department and VWSA is valued.”
The sky is the limit for Zintle, who reveals that playing with dolls frustrated her when she was young, and she could usually be found behind the wheel of a Sony Playstation, engrossed in games such as Need for Speed: Underground, Need for Speed II, or Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
She says ending up with a car manufacturer that has ruled the passenger vehicle sales charts for years seems inevitable.
“We stayed in East London, near the North East Express Freeway (R72); from my balcony, I could see the latest cars on the road,” she said.
Joining Volkswagen last year was a dream come true.
“I was excited, firstly, about joining the brand. Apart from Volkswagen, one can work on Audi, Bugatti, Bentley and Porsche.”
For now, she moves around in what is commonly termed the “People’s Car”, the best-selling Volkswagen Polo TSI.
The Best Apprentice award is made each year in recognition of outstanding performance by young employees within the group. In 2021, there were 50 recipients from 19 countries.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the awards – usually presented at a ceremony at VW’s international headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany – were handed out individually in the apprentices’ home countries.
“We are proud to have Zintle represent us in the Volkswagen Group and proud of her achievements; this is a well-deserved accolade,” said Dr Robert Cisek, VWSA chairman and managing director.
“VWSA prides itself on identifying and developing young talent through our trainee programmes, and Zintle is a strong example of the success of these programmes and the importance of investing in people.”