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NRF Celebrates Female TUT Researcher During Women’s Month



NRF Celebrates Female TUT Researcher During Women’s Month

NRF Celebrates Female TUT Researcher During Women’s Month. The National Research Foundation (NRF) Spotlights Dr. Portia Pearl Siyanda Sifolo for Remarkable Contributions to Humanity

NRF Celebrates Female TUT Researcher During Women’s Month

As part of its annual celebration of Women’s Month in August, the National Research Foundation (NRF) has chosen to honor Dr. Portia Pearl Siyanda Sifolo, an exceptional South African female researcher who has made significant strides in advancing human well-being through her work.

Dr. Portia Pearl Siyanda Sifolo: A Trailblazing Researcher

Dr. Sifolo, an esteemed Y-rated NRF Researcher and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Tourism Management, has been selected by the NRF for her noteworthy accomplishments. She received support from the NRF during her B-Tech studies’ final year and was also granted a Rated Researcher Grant.

In an insightful interview featured on the NRF’s website, Dr. Sifolo candidly shared her academic journey and personal anecdotes that have shaped her career.

The Influence of NRF on Dr. Sifolo’s Journey

Reflecting on her educational path, Dr. Sifolo recalled the pivotal role played by the NRF in her studies and career. When she made the decision to leave her job in 2005 to pursue further education, she initially had only enough funds to cover the registration fee for her B-Tech program.

Fortunately, an opportunity emerged when the NRF offered funding to students with an average grade of 65% or higher in their third-year core modules. Dr. Sifolo qualified for this support, which enabled her to receive NRF funding for that year.

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Dr. Sifolo’s trajectory continued as she successfully applied for the Evaluation and Rating Process at the NRF in 2021. Based on the excellence and impact of her research outputs, as well as favorable reviewer feedback, she attained a Y2 rating in the Y category. Her potential to establish herself as a researcher was acknowledged by most reviewers.

Furthermore, she obtained a grant from the Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers fund, which facilitated her involvement in activities such as a trip to Mid-Sweden University and coaching students at the Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit & Challenge in Namibia. In subsequent years, Dr. Sifolo received additional NRF grants for her research endeavors.

A Journey of Dedication and Achievements

Dr. Sifolo’s journey traces back to her upbringing in Hlathi Dam, KwaZulu-Natal. Raised in a Basotho “Monareng” household in a predominantly Zulu area, she gained exposure to diversity and inclusion through her grandmother, a nurse.

Her parents’ unwavering work ethic and commitment to their respective professions – her mother as a nurse and her father as a policeman – served as inspirations for her pursuit of excellence.

Her academic achievements include a B-Tech in Tourism Management from TUT (2005), a Master’s in Business Leadership from UNISA (2011), a Doctorate in Business Administration from UKZN (2017), and a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education from UP.

Balancing her studies with family responsibilities was challenging, yet rewarding. She also gained certificates from institutions such as the University of Florida and Mid-Sweden University.

Dr. Sifolo’s professional journey began in the tourism sector in 2003, starting as a Tourism Information Officer and later expanding her role to encompass teaching and full-time lecturing. Her focus on tourism leadership, entrepreneurship, and supply chains for economic development in Africa propelled her forward.

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Acknowledged for her contributions, Dr. Sifolo received awards like the Researcher-in-Training of the Year (Female) Institutional Award in 2017 and the NRF rating in 2021.

She participated in various programs, including the Department of Higher Education & Training’s Future Professors Program, and received accolades like the Faculty of Management Sciences Women Researcher of the Year.

Research Focus and Impact

Dr. Sifolo’s research centers on the supply side of tourism, with a specific emphasis on the interplay between stakeholder engagement and tourism supply chain management (TSCM) for optimal growth and sustainability within developing markets.

Her work underscores the vital role of small micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) as stakeholders in driving economic development through the tourism value chain.

Her research contributes to filling gaps in the African context, where the tourism supply chain has often been overlooked. Her mixed-method, transformative approach produces applicable research for diverse stakeholders in the industry.

Her studies have illuminated the challenges and potential solutions in effectively integrating SMMEs into the tourism supply chain to enhance sector performance. Themes such as digitalization and sustainable supply chain practices have also been explored.

Empowering Women in STEM and Beyond

Dr. Sifolo recognizes the ongoing need for gender equity and inclusion, both within the research community and society at large. She champions the principle of “raising your hand” and advocates for boldness, curiosity, and participation among women.

Drawing from her own experiences, she encourages aspiring female scientists to seize opportunities, enhance their skills, and make impactful contributions to their fields.

Guiding the Next Generation

Addressing young girls interested in STEM careers, Dr. Sifolo advises embracing the passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She highlights the rewarding nature of STEM fields and underscores the potential to create a positive impact on the world.

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By nurturing professional attributes, being curious, and actively participating in their communities, young girls can position themselves for success and intellectual excellence.

This story is brought to you by the National Research Foundation.

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