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Tracy Moonsamy - Get your hands dirty, show up in a meaningful way and cream will rise to the top

Head of Sustainability, Risks and Quality Systems Beier Group

Tracy Moonsamy works for the Beier Group which is based in Pinetown. She is head of sustainability, risks and quality systems for the group and has been at Beier for 24 1/2 years.

Tracy has spent the bigger part of that time managing quality systems implementation compliance. Over the last two years, she has built a portfolio around sustainability – Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and risk, which have been the most exciting two years of her career.

Beier is a technical textiles manufacturer, and their value proposition is that they engineer for the customer. Their benevolent intent is helping to protect and improve the quality of life and that is evident in the strong ethos around local manufacturing, growing local capacity and contributing to sustainable economic growth.

Foster relationships

Tracy is proud of the many achievements that she participates in both at work and personally. She comments that Beier’s biggest achievement is in the dedication that comes through in the way that they do business. “We foster relationships with communities, bringing small businesses into our business, localising products that would have been imported,” explained Tracy.

In addition, the Beier Group, through the Mkhulise Young Minds Development Foundation, has a strong bursary system that, provides support from pre-primary up to postgraduate level. The company aims to empower people through education and training to create a strong pipeline of prospective employees as well as grow existing employees.

“My belief is that we’re only going to change the economic situation in South Africa if we grow manufacturing capacity,” stressed Tracy.

Personally, Tracy is involved with an NPO called United Hands of Hope, which was founded by her brother. They provide spiritual and physical aid to impoverished communities creating a spirit of empowerment and ubuntu.

Tracy is enthusiastically involved in industry associations to build capacity for local manufacturers. These include the Medical Device Association of South Africa and the South African Medical Technology Industry Association (SAMED) and various technical committees.

Tracy’s journey at the Beier Group started 25 years ago when she was a learner and participated in the company’s CATS programme. Subsequently, the late Hans Beier employed Tracy, and she joined the Beier Group in the accounts department, which was fortuitous. Speaking of her career direction, she commented, “I realised that I didn’t love accounts and I started doing some work in the quality department. I think it was a bit of luck, my own work ethic and good timing.”

Fast forward nine years, there was an opportunity to build a clean room that is the state of art for the manufacture of medical devices. Tracy worked very closely with Warren Sachs, who’s her COO now, and together they commissioned a world class manufacturing plant; a Class 7 clean room which is still supplying Europe and the United States.

In 2016 Tracy was appointed the first female director in the history of Beier.

Triple bottom line

Over the years, Tracy’s job has evolved. Businesses now have to look at their triple bottom line and evaluate how they can make profits while taking care of people and the planet. These needs evolved into environmental, social and governance pillars, which are the some of the elements of sustainability.

Tracy said, “The reason I love sustainability is that I’m a risk-based person and sustainability takes into account risk management. It is not just your environmental carbon footprint and your waste management, it is how you take care of people, value chains and future proof your business. How do you make sure that you’re moving women and those previously disadvantaged through the process and creating a strong pipeline?”

She added that having governance controls in place allows you to make the right decisions. “Sustainability really asks the question: What are the things you need to do so that your business is still here and thriving in five years and in 10 years?”

Pushing into spaces

Speaking of the people who have inspired her along the way. Tracy says that Warren Sachs and Wolfgang Beier have both provided opportunities for her, while also pushing her into the spaces where she was uncomfortable, which allowed her to grow. She added, “I think that having a space where you can fail safely is important to be empowered. Everyone experiences challenges, if you start with the self, it’s always around whether you feel like you belong. A little bit of imposter syndrome always finds its way in.”

A big challenge for Tracy was that she didn’t have a degree that allowed her to walk into a business in a middle management role. She started at the bottom, which she said is great because it gives you good knowledge and grounding in the business. However, she added that starting at the bottom sometimes creates a shackle to the place that you’re started at. Dealing with the limitations one places on oneself and breaking those chains for oneself is important to grow.

A second challenge that Tracy has experienced is that the manufacturing sector has always had layers of complexity and historical stereotypes that need to be broken. Tracy explained that she was able to break through these layers. She commented, “You can never ask for a seat at the table or expect a seat at the table if you’re not showing the value that you bring. Often people want the seat without showing value. The way I overcame this was to show my value.”

Tracy stressed that it’s important to, “Get your hands dirty, show up in a meaningful way and cream will always rise to the top.”

Area of influence

Being part of KZN Top Business Women 2023 is meaningful to Tracy on many levels. She commented, “It means that recognition comes from somewhere else. And I think that sometimes that’s important to understand that your area of influence has grown.” In addition, said Tracy, “In the words of Warren Sachs, we want to make manufacturing sexy again. We need more people, especially women, in manufacturing.”


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