Mareli Botha was awarded Young Engineer of the Year 2023 at the CESA AON Engineering Excellence Awards 2023. As one of the youngest Technical Directors and shareholders at Zutari, Walls & Roofs wanted to know more about this rising star in the built environment. 

Q: How did you get started in your field, and what led to your current position? 

A: I decided to study chemical engineering because of the connection to systems thinking – and to be honest, this is about all I knew about this field when I started my studies. I got the amazing opportunity to do vacation work for NECSA in the plasma engineering department and found my passion. 

When I finished my studies, I phoned Prof Laux, one of the world’s leading plasma engineering specialists. I begged him to allow me to do an internship under him. He agreed, and off I went to Paris, France, where I worked for a couple of months before being accepted to do an international master’s degree in France in project management, energy and environmental engineering. 

Q: What do you think are the most important qualities for success in your field? 

A: For process engineering, you need to have strong analytical skills, be creative around engineering design, be able to work under pressure, communicate well with other engineering disciplines, have a strong sense of cause and effect, and understand and manage the impact of engineering activities on communities and the environment.  

Q: What would you say to young people thinking about a construction/built environment career? 

A: It is a very interesting and dynamic field. There are opportunities for creative thinkers and strong analytical thinkers. We also have brilliant expertise in this field in South Africa, so the opportunity to work with top minds and great mentors should be seriously considered. 

Q: Tell us three fun facts about yourself! 

A: I come from a family of engineers. My father is an engineer, my mother works in the engineering department, my brother is an engineer and even my husband is an engineer. Can you imagine the family dinners! 

My hobbies are creative writing and hiking. I love being in nature and South Africa has so many beautiful hiking destinations. I’d love to visit Asia, as I find the culture, food and architecture fascinating.  

“The combination of engineering, creative design and the concept of making a difference to one of the largest problems internationally, namely the waste crisis and environmental impact, became my inspiration.”
– Mareli Botha 

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