Innocentia Mahlangu, a civil engineer and project manager with Hatch, has been named by the Mail & Guardian as one of 2018’s ‘200 Young South Africans’ to watch. The prestigious annual supplement highlights ‘young stars shaping the country’s future’, according to the newspaper.
Mahlangu, who received her MSc Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2018, and her BSc in 2011, has extensive experience in the design and execution of rail infrastructure projects, including both project and construction management roles.
Mahlangu’s career at Hatch began in 2012 with a three-year stint in the design office, working on feasibility studies for railway infrastructure projects. Thereafter, an opportunity arose to act as resident engineer on a major construction project. Having spent a year on-site, Mahlangu was subsequently appointed as a construction manager at the age of 26, responsible for managing a multidisciplinary construction project. Shortly thereafter, she was appointed as an area project and construction manager, clinching a global award of recognition for construction excellence
“A career in engineering was not my obvious first choice, and only began to appeal to me in my Matric year,” Mahlangu states. She recounts how she created model houses from cardboard boxes while at school, even including electricity, and ultimately building her first model house from cement. “Such ideas came naturally to me,” she recalls. This abiding interest in both design and engineering eventually translated into a passion for civil engineering as a career.
While her main focus at Hatch to date has been railway engineering design and implementation, Mahlangu has progressed rapidly into project and construction management. “This offers me a greater impact in directing the manner in which engineering projects are delivered. I also believe engineers need to be ‘societal’ engineers, conscious of the fact that engineering and infrastructure projects are a vehicle to address economic and social challenges.
“I am inspired to be part of a generation of ‘societal’ engineers that has been instrumental in achieving our country’s National Development Plan vision, which recognises infrastructure as one of the key drivers of economic growth and social inclusion,” Mahlangu stresses. This aspiration was reflected in her Master’s research, which focused on Contractor Development Programmes.
Commenting on the perception that engineering continues to be a male-dominated field where women have not traditionally been able to excel, Mahlangu concludes: “I’m humbled to see an increasing number of young women thriving in this field. There are so many women who are breaking through the glass ceiling. We need more of these young female achievers to make a significant impact in this industry.”