Issue: August 2017
At Knight Piésold Consulting, one of the founding principles of the firm’s success over the past 96 years has been its focus on human resource development across its global workforce. This focus includes promoting diversity in terms of culture, leadership style, ethnicity and the way opportunities are developed for engineers. Academics are a baseline entry requirement, but from there, the playing fields are levelled when it comes to mentoring and growing pure engineering talent.
As Waseemah Isaacs, principal civil technologist at Knight Piésold’s Cape Town office, emphasises, it’s all about hard work, dedication and passion. “Nothing in life happens by chance, and you must believe in yourself and embrace opportunities,” she explains. “I was drawn to engineering because I know that the infrastructure landscape we create today is vital for our future. And as a mother and engineer, I fully appreciate the positive and direct socio-economic difference this makes for families and their communities. We were only three women in our civil engineering class at university some 14 years ago. However, when I look at the trend now, I can see that the number of women choosing to study engineering is definitely growing.”
From her formative experience, Waseemah says one of the key things to emphasise at school level is a greater appreciation of the foundational importance of mathematics for most careers, but especially for fields such as engineering. “I feel that teachers should place more emphasis on the applied elements of mathematics since this opens one’s eyes to real-world examples in the fields of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus and statistics. These are all tools we use as engineers, which we continue to develop over a lifetime of practice,” she explains.
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