Despite her normal work assignments in sales, Ashura Akukweti found herself spending more and more time in the workshop. Her passion was rewarded when she recently was appointed manager for Scania’s workshops in Tanzania.
“As services sales coordinator, I participated in technical training programmes and I simply loved being a part of that,” she says. “Also in my free time, I visited the workshop to experience the environment. And the more I learned, the more interested I became. It’s been challenging but I found that I was happier each time that I’d visited the workshop.”
Obstacles to overcome
At the age of 29, Akukweti readily admits that there have been obstacles to overcome since she has no background in technology. Raised in a family prominent in Tanzanian politics – her father was a government minister – she studied computer sciences, electronics and mathematics for her bachelor’s degree at college. Upon graduation four years ago, she immediately joined Scania Tanzania, initially in back office sales support.
Akukweti now manages operations for the main workshop in Dar es Salaam, with two foremen and 16 service technicians, as well as the smaller workshops in Arusha, Mbeya, and Mwanza. “Basically, we take care of everything that happens each day. Together with the foremen, we plan all operations, including repair and maintenance priorities, parts supplies, training and personnel issues. Training is especially important since we rely on computerised diagnostic tools and technical descriptions in English while the national language is Swahili.”
Vehicles imported from the UK
Many Scania trucks on Tanzanian roads are well past their prime and can be adequately serviced at very basic workshops. However, these workshops are not equipped to handle contemporary trucks with their abundance of electronic systems. “These advanced trucks, many of which are used vehicles imported from the UK, are becoming increasingly commonplace and must be serviced and repaired by us.”
A constant problem is counterfeit Scania parts sold in markets. Although some are priced at the same level as original parts, they may in many cases be useless. “Slowly but surely, customers are becoming aware of the drawbacks and increasingly coming to us for original parts,” says Akukweti.
Workplace characterised by respect for all
Over the four years with Scania, she has come to appreciate the egalitarian atmosphere and the workplace characterised by respect for all individuals. “For me as a woman, this is especially important.”
Akukweti says that she is committed to Scania for the long run. “I’ve grown so much in these four years. I enjoy working with people and leading a team. Perhaps I’ll advance ever further and, who knows, one day might become managing director.”