The construction industry belongs to everybody who loves it
Sikhulile Nyalunga is not your average quantity surveyor. With a Master of Science degree in construction project management, it’s clear that she loves the construction industry. Floors sat down with her to talk about her journey in the built environment so far.
Q: How did you get started in your field?
A beautiful lady came to give career guidance to my grade 12 class. Her dress code caught my attention – she had her company T-shirt on, blue jeans, a safety reflective vest, masculine Caterpillar safety boots and a white construction hard hat. I knew I wanted to be like her.
I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in construction studies, followed by a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in quantity surveying. During the holidays, I worked for various construction companies as a general labourer, to get experience. Once I graduated, I started as a graduate intern at TAL working with the technical advice team. At that point, tiling was just a trade in the bill of quantities for me, but the science behind tiling and flooring fascinated me.
After my internship, I officially joined the TAL team as a quantity surveyor/architectural specifier, working with architectural firms and assisting them with technical specifications for large projects. I have continued with my studies while at TAL, recently completing a Master of Science degree in construction project management and I am currently studying towards a Programme for Management Development (PMD) with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS).
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment to date, and why?
My greatest passion lies in education and training, as equipping students with the information that will make their transition from school to work easier gives me great joy.
I have wanted to do something for university students in the built environment for many years, as I believe in paying it forward. I finally had the opportunity to do so at the Student Materiality Day at the University of Pretoria earlier this year, with Media in Africa for Building and Décor. It was a great success. I hope for more initiatives like this in the future.
Q: What would you say to young women thinking about a career in the construction/built environment?
Remove the perception that the construction industry is only for our male counterparts – the construction industry belongs to all who love it, who want to enter it and make a difference. There are great employment opportunities, job satisfaction, competitive pay, variety of choice, progression opportunities and innovation is rewarded. Yes, there are challenges, but it is nothing you won’t be able to overcome – challenges make us stronger.
Q: Tell us some fun facts about yourself.
I love dogs! I pick up strays wherever I go, but when I brought home the 13th dog, my dad said: “Enough is enough,” so now I only have three fur-babies.
You can say I’m an adrenaline and speed junkie, anything that others won’t try, you will find me in the forefront. I would love to visit the island of Bali in Indonesia, as I love nature and beautiful views.