Innocentia Mahlangu is a civil engineer who specialises in the design and implementation of railway infrastructure projects. In an environment dominated by men, she is one of very few female construction managers to have overseen the construction of a multimillion-rand railway project. Her excellent performance on the project saw her recognised in national and international engineering publications and she received a Global Award of Recognition for construction excellence from Hatch Africa.
Mahlangu recently completed her master’s in Civil Engineering specialising in project and construction management and intends to pursue a PhD in the future. “A career in engineering wasn’t my first choice and only appealed to me in matric,” says Mahlangu. “I was fixated on creating model houses from cardboard boxes and once I learned about electricity, I fitted them with lights. The one day I found a bag of cement and built a model house. I realised my true passion was in creating things.”
Mahlangu combined this passion with her keen interest in science and design which then translated into civil engineering. Once she completed her degree at Wits University, she started work doing feasibility studies for railway infrastructure projects. Then she was given the opportunity to be resident engineer on a construction project.
“After a year I was appointed construction manager, at the age of 26, and I was responsible for managing a multi-disciplinary project,” she says. “Then I was appointed as an area project and construction manager and completed an MSc degree in Civil Engineering at Wits University. My next plan is to sharpen my skills in project and construction management and further pursue my PhD while continuing with my master’s research.” — Tamsin Oxford