By Zeenat Ghoor (Karrim) Director, Aspire Consulting Engineers
In the business world there are always ups and downs, swings and roundabouts. COVID has caised massive disruption – it is as if a book has fallen on a dust-covered table and unsettled all the dust.
But the dust will settle. As business owners and entrepreneurs we are resilient – we will survive.
I started a Construction and Consulting Engineering practice within the intention of giving skilled disadvantaged artisans opportunities in the market to secure work. Aspire (my company) would do new builds and renovations for home owners; the edge I would offer to my clients is that I am an Engineer by profession and would manage their project from a time cost and quality point of view.
The benefit that my artisans had was that they had work continuously and could provide for their families. Our success in the work done on our sites was a direct result of the dedication, skills and energy they brought to each project. After 3 years of training them in business, client liaison, quality and cost planning they started their own construction company and I started on a path to equip young engineers get exposure in the engineering consulting field.
I am proud to say they still operate, and we often do work together where they need some engineering advice. And they are independent and empowered and I will not forget the lessons they taught me in this.
I believe strongly in self-development as well and find the most remarkable thing about engineering to be that you learn something new every day. I have been registered with SAICE for over a decade, completed my professional registration with ECSA 5 years ago and are currently registering with SACPCMP. Our company is registered with CESA, SAIBPP, SAICE and WPN and we believe together we are stronger.
Of course, this journey has come with very many challenges. The most important one has been barriers to entry of a primarily male-dominated discipline. I face daily challenges on site dealing with various construction managers, project managers and the professional team as they struggle to overcome their own bias with regard to what is an acceptable job for a woman. But I persevere because I must and I will no matter how much I am challenged and no matter how much I feel like giving up. I face the world and I face my staff and I show them how to be bold in adversity. The journey is not easy but the difference you can make is incredible. We have challenges in projects that are typical of our industry, cost, time and quality and we are in an industry with no barriers to entry which results in us having to actively manage and teach and mentor artisans on-site to upskill them.