Head of Dube AiRoad Intent on Transforming the Face of Transport and Logistics

13 September 2019

From an early age, Anathi Qabaka, the head of Dube AiRoad was inspired to be fearless in her quest to blaze her own path into the seemingly male-dominated world into which she was born. Strongly influenced by the tenacity of her mother, who had left her own career as a Social Worker to take over the family’s taxi and retail businesses after her husband passed away, Anathi was encouraged to pursue her passion, to be single-minded in getting the job done and to not be confined by society’s expectations of women. After all, she and her siblings had been single-handedly raised by a woman who herself had been celebrated as the first woman in the Eastern Cape’s Gxulu Village in Keiskammahoek, or “Qoboqobo” in isiXhosa, to have passed matric.

Today, as Dube TradePort Corporation’s Transport & Logistics Manager, Qabaka is spearheading operations at Dube AiRoad, the expanding trucking fleet operating out of the Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone. The dedicated logistics fleet, which comprises Euro 5 emissions-compliant trucks, including varying sizes of refrigerated vehicles, connects Dube Cargo Terminal’s time-critical freight between Dube Cargo Terminal at King Shaka International Airport with all major centres in South and Southern Africa, offering customers a complete air-to-road and road-to-air logistics solution.

The strong line of female influence in Qabaka’s life, which had begun with her mother, continued when her female cousin, who was a professional in IT, inspired her own pursuit of tertiary education, opting for a B.Com degree in Informatics which she studied at the University of Pretoria from 2003 - 2006. She recalls fondly the university’s tradition of partnering first-year students with a senior student as a form of academic and social support, helping them to transition to a life away from home: “This initiative really cemented my appreciation for the value of comradery and mentorship, particularly amongst women”, says Qabaka. 

She also credits the mentorship she received at university and subsequently at various milestones throughout her career, for her own passion and commitment to embracing mentorship, ongoing training and skills development in the workplace. Amongst the highlights of her current portfolio, she lists the recruitment of Sindisiwe Makhathini, Dube AiRoad’s first female truck driver – an employment trend that she feels confident will continue: “I am encouraged by Dube TradePort’s commitment to promoting skills development and gender equity throughout the organisation,” she adds.

Starting out as a Junior IT software developer in Pretoria and then being accepted into a graduate development programme for a major international software development company in 2008, Qabaka started engaging with customers and was quickly thrust into the intricate world of IT development where she initially thought she would settle. With all roads seemingly leading to her current leadership role at Dube AirRoad, her IT development skills and her passion for solutions-based service soon moved her into designing customer-centric IT software solutions.  In this role, she had to immerse herself into understanding the systems and processes of her client’s business in order to recommend and design solutions that were uniquely fitted to enhance their specific business development objectives. It was in this business analysis role at a fleet management company that Qabaka first interfaced with the detailed operations of the transport and logistics business environment.

Over the years, Qabaka has held several positions in business analysis as well as IT systems design and project management for major logistics companies, including state-owned transport and logistics entity, Transnet. Fulfilling various roles in senior key account management, she developed an in-depth knowledge and understanding of land-side logistics operations at two major provincial logistics hubs - the ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

Her roles in various Transnet business units also required her to interface with various players in both the road and rail logistics supply chains. It is this prolific understanding and experience of the transport and logistics industry and the critical role it plays within the provincial economy that is the foundation on which Qabaka has built her lead role as the head of Dube AiRoad.

“As an efficient, professional and world-class road freight distribution provider, Dube AiRoad is intent on being innovative and transforming the logistics environment in order to be agile and swift in responding to the ever-changing trade and industry environment.  For instance, our ability to facilitate the inspection and processing of cargo with Custom and SAPS at Dube Cargo Terminal on behalf of our customers is just one way that Dube AiRoad is adding value to our traditional logistics services and improving business efficiency by saving our customers’ time and money,” Qabaka concludes.