Women in Business: A career shift that has paid off for Comoil MD

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Natasha Kasukuwere

Rhy Balicholo 

Sometimes the career you passionately envisioned in the early years of your life, actually devoting four years of study for, is not the one you ultimately end up practicing. That is the case for 27-year old Natasha Kasukuwere.

She anticipated a career in law after obtaining a University of Zimbabwe Bachelor of Law honours degree in 2018. However, she made a drastic shift. After graduating with a qualification in law, she signed up for Deloittes Zimbabwe’s programme on disruptive recruitment and did her articles. And now four years after hoping for a path in the legal profession,  Kasukuwere is now running a petroleum company.

“When I started studying law at the University of Zimbabwe, it did not once cross my mind
that I would end up on the path I am on now,” said Kasukuwere.  This career change has, however, paid well for her and has helped her revive her family’s business.

Kasukuwere is now the managing director of Comoil (Pvt) Limited, one of the first indigenous-owned fuel companies in Zimbabwe. The business was established by her father in 2000 after the liberalization of the petroleum marketing and distribution sector in Zimbabwe.

Though family owned, management control was given to external individuals for the first two decades of its operation. The company was, however, not spared from the economic turbulence in Zimbabwe over the years and the operation that once boasted 15 retail sites and large commercial distribution began to dwindle.

“During the height of the Covid 19 pandemic and 20 years into Comoil’s operations, I left my job as a Senior Audit Assistant at Deloitte Zimbabwe in May 2020. I made a decision to use the skills I had obtained working in other organizations to try and selvage what was left of the business and build it back up on those ruins, ” said Kasukuwere.

Trying to turnaround a business as managing director came with its own challenges. “Running a business that is flagged for political exposure has resulted in several bottlenecks in accessing finance. This has resulted in me having to think outside the box where raising funds is concerned and have the business grow organically”

When she joined Comoil, the company was only operating two service stations. However, significant growth has now been registered and the company now operates five retail sites across the country. Kasukuwere’s objective is to grow the sites and the business further.  “This number continues to grow as there are plans to develop new service stations. We also
having a growing list of commercial clients ranging to farms, mines, manufacturers to name a few.”

Kasukuwere cleaned up the business and has now steered the company out of debt and has negotiates supply agreements with fuel traders. “This has seen the business grow from strength the strength. Comoil is on its way to scaling greater heights and I am enthusiastic about the opportunities opening up within the country.”

Natasha Kasukuwere

Kasukuwere also spoke about making a success of working in a male dominated industry while acknowledging that it is quite challenging. “Being a woman in a male dominated industry also comes with its own set of drawbacks. I struggled to get serious clients as I was new in the industry with a brand whose visibility was fading.”

When asked how she is balancing her work life with a child who is still under a year, Kasukuwere said: “Juggling the responsibilities of a job and your brand new baby may seem impossible, but I am making it work by managing expectations on both sides.”

 

 

 

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