In the run-up to Women’s Day, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) managing director Wahida Parker was honoured with a WOZA Award, in the best corporate non-practicing lawyer category, at a gala event in Sandton this past weekend.
The WOZA Awards, which was launched in February this year, is the brainchild of Rehana Khan Parker, who saw the need to recognise female lawyers for their dedication, achievements and contribution to the profession across various sectors: from lawyers working in academia, to those in IT, Tech, education, human rights or the pro bono sector.
Parker, who has been at the helm of TMACC for the last three years, says that in her category, the awards looked for a woman who used her law degree in the sphere of business to uplift, empower and engage both with communities and with young and upcoming lawyers offering them guidance, assistance and coaching.
“The whole purpose of the WOZA award is to inspire women in the legal fraternity and to make them realise that even if you don’t fit into the court room with the law degree, you can actually find a space for you to operate in,” she explains.
Parker says that team engagement is sometimes lacking in the legal profession. “Lawyers can feel quite lonely in their practice and often struggle to work in teams – in business teamwork is crucial and alleviate the sense of feeling alone.
“So, whether it is academia or whether it’s the boardroom, as in my case, they were looking for a figure from a legal background into the business world and how you can still be successful utilising your legal background. I think heading up something as iconic as Table Mountain – being the MD of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company – it’s a powerful place to occupy,” she adds.
Wahida Parker is passionate about the possibilities that emerge when law is merged with another discipline, and the innovation that comes along with it. This is something that has carried her through various positions, which include being the general manager at the Sun International hotel and casino in Worcester.
Heading up an institution that in the past would very much have been male-dominated, Parker is grateful to have had the MD baton of TMACC passed down by a female predecessor, and she is well on her way to leaving her own remarkable legacy.
“The change that I think I’m hoping to bring about and have already started to bring about is the idea of making sure that the concept of this great natural wonder is in the hearts of every South African, especially locals,” she adds. “It’s about instilling that idea that makes every local person an ambassador.”
When it comes to overcoming the remaining barriers instituted by a more patriarchal way of managing things, she says that the one thing she has tackled head-on is making the mountain more accessible for all.
She explains that it took a lot of engagement to discuss and come to a ticketing solution that would make the mountain affordable to locals. “One of the things we did not want to do was to have our international visitors feel that they are being fleeced, because Cape Town, unfortunately in the past, had the reputation where restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions were all accused of increasing their prices during peak season.
“We had to navigate away from this. Locals get a free ticket up the mountain on their birthdays, and we’ve kept the rate for senior citizens and students really low. Our sunset special is certainly a big winner for locals. By introducing this pricing strategy, we have achieved both our goals,” she adds.
Parker says that Table Mountain should be viewed as “our” mountain; our heritage, our place for relaxation and sporting activities – ultimately, that place that we go to when we’re soul searching. “There’s no doubt in my mind that you are going to be very hard-pressed to find something more beautiful than the view from the top.”