In conversation with Commercial Director Vuyelwa Masweu
The HardHat Professional spoke with Vuyelwa Masweu (VM), Development Commercial Director at Inkanyeli Group, about her career choices and being a female in the construction and built environment industry.
THHP: Briefly tell us about your background.
VM: It all started in 1995 when I obtained my qualification in Building Science. My current position is Development Commercial Director for the black-owned company Inkanyeli Group based in Randburg.
My primary duties include ensuring that the projects are feasible and financially sound before, during and after development.
THHP: Why did you choose a career as a HardHat Professional?
VM: To be honest, it was not on my list of choices – I wanted to be a pharmacist – YES, a pharmacist! Sadly, I lost my mom in my Matric year, which affected my results, especially science that was a key requirement for my ideal profession.
Life and luck led me to choose a career in the construction industry with the assistance of my late brother who encouraged me to make a choice and figure it out later. It worked well.
THHP: What have been your greatest moments in this career?
VM: My career gained momentum when I started working for the very same company where I a now Director. I was given the opportunity to run two projects on my own and was appointed as a Senior Quantity Surveyor.
My Site Manager at the time was Sylvester Martin; today he is the Group MD. I have learnt a lot from him as a Site Manager and as a well-rounded person. The opportunity allowed me to showcase my potential and talent. Both projects were completed timeously and managed to exceed the projected profits.
THHP: What has been your experience as a female in this male-dominated industry?
VM: My career started at a very low point – being a black female Quantity Surveyor. The industry then was still male dominant. However, that didn’t determine my destiny or affect my attitude towards work or my male colleagues.
I knew that I was set for the best opportunities and outcome. It was up to me to grow and look after the environment where I was entrusted with my ability and not because of my colour and gender.
THHP: What are the challenges you have experienced and how did you overcome them?
VM: Women in construction are facing a huge uphill battle when it comes to advancement in the construction industry. Despite the challenges we as women face in the field, we are progressing and finding ways to support each other through mentorship and advocacy.
To be on site, it is hard work. Sometimes you have to get dirty, having to be in jeans most of the time, but I do get satisfaction out of work!
THHP: What advice can you give aspiring female HardHat Professionals?
VM: My advice to my fellow woman in construction:
o Stay true to yourself
o Your colour and gender should not determine your destiny
o PUSH with all what you have to reach your goals
o Learn from the best
THHP: What value do you think females bring to this industry?
VM: I believe we women are cut from a different cloth as compared to men, in a sense that we bring an element of the following values:
o Punctuality – being on time for attendance and tasks
o Accomplishment – appreciation for completing a task
o Co-operation – working with others with mutual benefit and respect
o Dependability – reliability – trustworthiness
o Diligence – attentiveness, persistence and perseverance
o Pride – dignity, self-respect and doing one’s best
THHP: What are you doing to ensure more female HardHat professionals come up the ranks?
VM: I mentor young female professionals especially those in employment with me. As a priest’s wife (yes, my husband is a priest for an Anglican church in Benoni), I look after the girls in our church. It extends to mentoring them about life, love and career.
I am proud to say that two junior quantity surveyors in our church have selected their career paths and are going up the ranks because of my guidance.
THHP: How are you celebrating Women’s month? Does it matter to you?
VM: For me, Woman’s Day is every day. There are women out there sacrificing their lives, time and resources for others to have a better life. I make sure that I preach the gospel of self-love and independence, both financially and mentally.
Young women need to be taught that they are the architects of their own lives. They need to stand up and make things happen for themselves. I believe that it depends on us, the professional women of today, to make sure girls achieve greater heights in their lives and careers.
THHP: Who are your role models in the industry and why?
VM: To be honest, I don’t have a role model in the industry, since it has been male-dominant from the start. However, I hope to be one in my journey and inspire other women following a similar path.