On 9 August South Africa celebrates Women’s Day. In light of this commemoration ProProcess celebrates the strong women-in-engineering on our team. We asked the women why they chose a career in engineering, which to this day is still a male dominated profession. This is what they had to say:

Why did you choose a job in engineering?

Eleanore Forner (Business Development Lead) said: I have an affinity and aptitude for science, technology and math.  I also have a creative side and wasn’t sure how to merge these two worlds. About halfway through my final year at school, my dad said to me: ”You don’t know what you want to study” and further suggested that we visit the TUKs open day. After the lecturer explained what chemical engineering entails, I thought this was the job for me.

Cara-Mari Klopper (Process Engineer) said: I initially started studying engineering due to my dad. He gave me exposure to the engineering field through the work he did and the people he worked with. Growing up he allowed me to work on small hobby projects and learn. My dad always motivated me to work harder and to remain positive while studying and while working.

Nicola Schutte (Process Draughtswoman) said: At the age of 18 I secured a job as a Drawing Office Junior, learning draughting on the drawing board. At the same time, I was intrigued with AutoCAD as it was still new in South Africa. This is the path I followed, and the rest is history.

Chanel Dalziel (Draughtswoman) said: I fell into engineering. I often helped my father on his projects by handing him tools, and  I realised how technically minded I was. I was also creative, and landed up in an Architectural draughting position, which quickly swept me into mechanical design in the Mining industry. Being organically drawn to process, where everything has a solution, engineering is an ideal and rewarding career path for me.

Tanja Marcus (Principal Process Engineer) said: At school the subjects I enjoyed the most were Math and Science for their clearly defined rules and logical composition.  My father also always included me in his work, be it soldering, assembly of a PP piping network for cooling water supply, buying hydraulic hose & fittings, etc. From high school onwards I then knew I wanted to pursue a creative, technical career and chemical engineering was the perfect fit starting my journey as a woman-in-engineering.

Nicole Forte (Senior Draughtswoman) said: My dream was to study aerodynamics and one day work for Ferrari. At school my favourite subjects were maths and science which opened many doors when it came to choosing a career. I opted to work for a company that trained young draughtsman and provided studying for a mechanical engineering diploma.

Sandy Nelson (Supply Chain Analyst) said: I chose a career in engineering, because I thought it would be a lot of fun! Engineering is the field that solves the most impactful of our problems in the world. Like me you don’t have to be an engineer to be a part of the engineering world.


What is great about your job?

Tanja Marcus (Principal Process Engineer) said: A job as a chemical engineer is very rewarding as there are so many different aspects to it. I have been able to work in R&D and in the project environment. I have played many roles on the different types of projects I have worked as chief investigator, process engineer, commissioning and project manager. I have worked on scoping tests, pilot and demonstration plants; designed, specified and commissioned various types of plants; conducted many feasibility studies and have been involved in flowsheet selection and process optimisation. I am continuously learning. I also thoroughly enjoy sharing my knowledge with enthusiastic, hard-working young engineers that love to learn.

Nicole Forte (Senior Draughtswoman) said: What I love most about working in the drawing office at ProProcess is that you are exposed to new challenges daily, I am continuously learning. It is very rewarding to start a project with only a slight concept and then at the end see the finished product built in front of you. When I meet new people and they ask what I do, I am proud to say that I work in the drawing office and can show them photos of what we as a company are able to produce.

Sandy Nelson (Supply Chain Analyst) said: I get to interact with a wide range of suppliers, clients and colleagues and work on interesting, innovative projects. I get to be a part of the project from start to end and see all our designs come to life as high quality products.

Nicola Schutte (Process Draughtswoman) said:  I still love drawing Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams especially at the beginning of new projects. I am privileged to work with a talented team of intellectuals who are not only professional but enthusiastic in what they do. Their knowledge and passion are influential and motivating, making work rewarding. Every day I learn something new. Kudos to an incredible Team.

Cara-Mari Klopper (Process Engineer) said: I have had the privilege to work in an area of the industry where I can be part of the design of a solution and see the final implementation of our design. What I enjoy most about what I do, is that every day has a different challenge where I learn something new. I have been fortunate enough to work with people that have supported me to gain knowledge to improve myself as an engineer.

Chanel Dalziel (Draughtswoman) said: In engineering the possibilities are endless, and NOTHING is impossible.  I have moved between different disciplines and it has been an amazing experience to understand the overall picture. For me engineering is the perfect demonstration of individuality within a team. The outcome of my work is solely dependent on my performance, but the outcome of the project, of the bigger picture of many different interfacing puzzle pieces we create, is wholly dependent on the quality of the team.

Eleanore Forner (Business Development Lead) said: Creativity. Travel / meeting people / new environments. Whether it be for commissioning or a conference, I meet people from all around the world, different cultures, different industries, different projects. Flexibility & variety: I started my career in the Nuclear Industry, then went into Hydrometallurgy for several years and now my focus is on Enhanced Oil Recovery. I love being able to learn new concepts, tricks of the trade and challenge myself with starting something new.

What have you found to be challenging?

Eleanore Forner (Business Development Lead) said:  The university course is tough, however if you can stick with it, work hard, and persevere, the career is very rewarding. Work-life balance: My motto is: “I work to live, not live to work”. Sometimes the job can be demanding however keeping fit and healthy is still priority for me.

Chanel Dalziel (Draughtswoman) said: Gender role issues have played their part in my challenges of working in engineering. I have often been omitted from commissioning or site work, being deemed: not as strong/physically tough as my male peers, which may be required on site; the possibility of me being leered at/cat-called while on site (my gender making me an unsafe fit).

Cara-Marie Klopper (Process Engineer) said: I struggle with confidence in my decision making and my ideas. This has a lot to do with exposure and experience. My current position provides me exposure to various problems that have a variety of solutions. I now only need the experience to know which solutions are executable and what will work within the overall systems conditions.

Sandy Nelson (Supply Chain Analyst) said: The most challenging aspects of my job for me is to constantly adapt and mange change and uncertainty in the ever changing environment.

Tanja Marcus (Principal Process Engineer) said: The most challenging thing I have faced in my career is delegation. The realisation that it was impossible to do everything myself and having to let go of certain tasks and duties was difficult.

Nicole Forte (Senior Draughtswoman) said: The most challenging thing I have found in my career is trying to balance home life with work. Being a mom of two children, as well as working a full time job definitely keeps me busy, but it I wouldn’t have it any other way.