Mari’s tenacity and determination are a hallmark of her career. Despite some challenges, she completed her Civil Engineering Diploma at Tshwane University of Technology before joining WSP. Since Mari has also completed a BTech Degree in Water through Unisa and recently attained her Professional Registration from the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
“When I joined WSP I started out at the very bottom drawing locality plans,” Mari recalls, laughing when she adds: “I didn’t even know what a locality plan was when I began, but someone asked me to do one, so I had to learn.”
From here Mari began doing wayleaves, and she enjoyed learning the process of engaging with council. As she became more familiar with how council projects work, she expressed her interest in learning Civil 3D and was given the opportunity to work with this software. “From here I just worked hard and took the opportunities to learn new software and technology as they came up,” she says. “I’m now leading a small team and learning more about the financial and management side of projects to supplement my technical knowledge.”
Mari’s diverse skillset has grown from her determination to stay on top of advancing design technology in the civil engineering space. She has a particular interest in stormwater and drainage and is currently working on a few international projects in this space, while based in Johannesburg. “I really enjoy learning about different standards, particularly in the UK where there is a stronger focus on environmental sustainability and visually pleasant designs,” she says. “There is definitely room to apply this way of thinking about stormwater management that can be incorporated in local designs, even though our local standards don’t require it yet.”
Adopting digitally led design and project management approaches has put WSP at the forefront of digital transformation in the industry. For the Africa team, working on international projects requires learning a variety of software packages. Mari believes the ability to adapt and learn to use different types of software quickly is one of the Digital Engineering team’s differentiators.
“We are sought after amongst our international colleagues because we have a reputation for being willing and able to learn new software quickly,” she says. “And, of course, the more we work with different software packages, the easier it is for us to slot into teams regardless of the software they prefer. This also gives our team hands on experience working with team and on projects from numerous geographies.”
WSP in Africa’s Digital Engineering team consists of a variety of experts in technology as well as specialist engineering fields such as water, drainage, roads and so on. “I’m currently working on a ground-breaking Canadian rail project with a few of my local colleagues, which is entirely modelled in 3D – from the design itself, to asset management, through to ensuring client can access the model for maintenance after completion.”
As a leader in this field, this project is a great example of how WSP takes a digitally led approach to projects from end-to-end, looking beyond Building Information Modelling (BIM) to incorporate the process-driven Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management (EPCM) delivery model.
“I’m excited to be working on this project and gaining exposure to international standards,” Mari says, demonstrating her thirst for continuous learning on the job.
In her spare time Mari enjoys playing sport, travelling, camping and doing DIY projects around the house. “I recently started playing tennis, which I always thought I’d be good at. But I’ve still got a long way to go before I’m standing at Wimbledon,” she laughs.