September 19, 2017

Women engineers rule the roost at MIP Process Technologies

Process equipment manufacturer and supplier MIP Process Technologies of Sandton, Johannesburg, features women in prominent engineering roles, reflecting the ongoing transformation of the mining industry.

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August, which is an ideal opportunity for MIP Process Technologies to highlight the importance of gender inclusivity in the mining industry, Managing Director, Philip Hoff, comments. Prominent employees paving the way forward for women are Process Engineer ,Jodi Mackenzie, and Project Engineer, Sacha-Li Pretorius.

Mackenzie explains that, upon graduating as a qualified chemical engineer from the University of Pretoria, and currently pursuing BSc (Hons) in Metallurgical Engineering, she entertained dreams “involving pristine white laboratory coats, and the development of lush formulations for one of my favourite cosmetic brands.”

Ironically, the first job she accepted, however, focused on dirt and rust. “I was later sent to site to witness first-hand the magnitude of one of our paper designs brought to life. It was then I realised, either by sheer luck or divine intervention, that I was in the industry meant for me.” Mackenzie maintains she is “absolutely passionate” about minerals processing, as “it makes me tick.”

Pretorius, who has a BSc (Hons) in Chemical Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand, and a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Project Management, says she has always had an abiding interest in mathematics and science, especially chemistry.

“This is why I decided to pursue a career in engineering. My final year of study towards my degree included a hydrometallurgy course, as well as a course in project management. I took a great interest in these two topics. MIP Process Technologies has subsequently afforded me the opportunity to work within a projects role in the mining industry,” Pretorius explains.

Both women have been so successful in their respective roles that they have been instrumental in securing multi-million rand contracts for the company. Pretorius, in particular, has shepherded three such projects successfully, and is currently working on two more. “I have also had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of mechanical equipment,” she notes.

Commenting on the role of women in such a niche industrial environment, Mackenzie states firmly that “careers do not have gender roles; society does.” She urges women contemplating similar career paths in traditional male-dominated fields to always be cognizant of stereotyped expectations, “so you are aware of exactly what it will take to smash these. Never forget that you alone are in control of your destiny. Own that reality, and make it happen.”

Pretorius highlights that many women are intimidated by the fact that engineering is still regarded as a male discipline. “I encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering, as well as in project management, as a person’s capabilities are not determined by gender. I have encountered numerous brilliant female engineers within this industry,” she concludes.

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