We’d like to shine the spotlight this Women’s Month, on a vibrant and inspiring young woman in engineering that our team at KPR has had the pleasure of working with and assisting on her career path. Meet Mkateka Chauke, B.Sc.Mechanical Engineering, who qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2020.
Ms. Chauke is currently a Management Trainee at a well-known beverage company. Speaking of her role here she says:
“Management Trainee positions are highly sought after and are not easy to get into especially coming right from university. I have to credit my career thus far to KPR, they have not only supported me financially but have been an amazing stepping stone for my success.
From my first year, KPR covered my tuition and accommodation, because they saw something in me. I had to meet them halfway and give them a good return on investment, and in my case, this was good marks. I will not lie to you and say it was easy, because it was definitely not, but I can say it was worth it, because as the saying by Marilyn Monroe goes: “We don’t stop when we are tired, we stop when we are finished.”
From the outset, Mkateko dedicated herself to hard work in order to achieve her goals. Our team was committed to supporting her along the journey by providing not only access to resources for her studies, but also to opportunities within our wider networks for practical experience, as well as the all-important element of moral support and encouragement too. She expounds on her experience in her own words:
“KPR did not just fund me, but they went beyond to ensure that along with the theoretical knowledge that I was learning in school, I was also receiving practical knowledge. In 2017, I was working as an Engineering intern at a Materials Handling Company. In 2018, I asked KPR to provide me with a more hands on practical experience, and they did not disappoint, I was fortunate enough to work at a Fabrication Company where I served as a Boiler Maker apprentice. Days were long, but the experience was exactly what I needed to learn to respect my position and the hard work that goes into Engineering support functions. In 2019, I worked at an Engineering Consultancy as a Mechanical Engineering Intern where I learnt to produce important engineering documents and got the opportunity to visit a gold mine. At the time I was grateful, but did not realise just how lucky I was until I got my final year Design project which was to design an extractor for a gold mine.”
In terms of forging ahead on a successful career path and the rigorous interview process involved with securing her current position, Mkateko decided to embrace authenticity and self-belief over the conventional wisdom touted in popular media about how to secure your dream job. She describes her thought process that day and offers advice for other young professionals who might be daunted by impending interviews of their own yet to come:
“On the morning of the 6th of January 2021, I decided to throw out all the interview tips and tricks that I had crammed off the internet and just be myself. It was the greatest risk I have ever taken, but it has given me immeasurable reward. From the day I met Alf Pain, the Managing director of KPR, and the KPR team, my life and that of those around me has changed for the better.
After that interview, I realised that you do not need to pretend to be someone you are not to get ahead in life, and that has been my motto ever since.
Be unapologetic about who you are, and you will unlock a new potential in yourself that will draw people to you. Currently, I am a Management Trainee at a Beverage Company, a position that I assessed I was underqualified for, but due to my way of thinking and problem-solving abilities, I was able to secure the position simply because of the support and mentorship that I received from KPR.
I am immensely grateful for all the practical opportunities and job prospects that I have received. KPR has played a vital role in my success, and I will keep using the lessons I have learned through KPR throughout my entire career.
With that I leave you with a quote from Oprah’s favourite book:
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
It has been inspiring and rewarding for the team behind her at KPR, to witness Mkateko’s career evolution from student engineer to management trainee in a global multi-national corporation as a young black woman in engineering. We are proud of her achievements and remain committed to diversity and inclusion in our own organisation, for our clients and for each of the professionals we assist with placements from all across South Africa.