I’ve worked in energy for my entire career. I worked in coal power plants but then changed my ways and moved to renewable energy
Enel Green Power
I’m a curious explorer
I live in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Johannesburg is the most exciting city in South Africa (don’t listen to what those people in Cape Town say!) It is a beautiful city to explore and learn as it has a much shorter, but just as busy a history as some of the world’s great cities. I like talking about Jozi (which is what many people call it) and I used to write about it. I still create a monthly guide of what to do in Jozi for my friends and if you ask nicely, I give personalised tours through the city.
I love travelling. I travel quite a lot for work to the rural parts of South Africa. I love driving along these open roads past woods, plains, coastal forests, sand dunes, cities, and everything else that is in this beautiful country and continent. I have done lots of personal travel through Africa, Europe, and Asia. I love taking photographs and immersing myself into culture, especially in cities. I love the beach and would like to lay there in the sun for weeks.
I love music and have been in love with the UK Top 40 since I was in school. My favourite types of music are indie, Britpop, dance, and folk music. I tried to play the guitar but I’m not too good.
I like keeping up with technology, I enjoy political debates, I love learning about history. I love sharing my knowledge with people. I would like to, one day, cook the perfect steak. I also love food but don’t we all!
Lastly, I like fancy soaps and cool looking socks.
I build wind farms in Africa
My job title is Project Engineer which means I am the responsible engineer for the success of the wind farms we build. This job has many facets to it.
Someone (usually Developers) goes out onto a mountain or a field and thinks, “Hmm…I think we can build a wind farm here.” They come to my company and our Business Development unit discusses if this is a good idea or not. They talk about all the boring stuff (permits and finances and tariffs) and then for the cool parts, they come to me. At this point, I am responsible for a team of very smart engineers who looks at the technical feasibility of a project.
Firstly, I need to figure out if there is enough wind. This usually is very important. And then we need to figure out if we can build the wind farm where they propose.
In Africa, we face many challenges. Some of these are from governments who have never connected renewable energy plants to their electricity grids. Some don’t have grids! My job here is to figure out if I can technically build a wind farm here! Sometimes we have to come up with creative solutions. And this is a lot of fun!
We have many special challenges in these new developing markets. And yes, we need to worry about wild animals!
Once we are convinced that we can build the farm, I help with preparing documents to present in auctions/bids for projects. These usually have short time spans to prepare the documents and we can go days without proper sleep trying to find the best way to build these farms. This high pressure atmosphere is the best part of my job. The camaraderie of colleagues coupled with this common goal makes this highly rewarding. It’s also where, as an engineer, I learn more about the other elements that go into building a wind farm. It’s not just manufacturing a product and constructing it – it is SO much more!
Once we WIN the project, I make sure that the wind farm is built correctly. It’s highly rewarding seeing the machines work and provide this clean energy to people.
You might notice that I have tried to use WE as much as possible. I LOVE that I am part of a team. Only with a team that believes in each other can you create the greatness that we do.
My Typical Day: I am based in an office where I talk to many smart people before settling down at my laptop but sometimes, I go outside!
As an engineer. the best part of my job is that no two days are the same. Sometimes, when we have downtime between projects, things may get to appear similar, but even engineers need to chill.
My job is mostly office based. However, I try to go out to site (where we are building) once a month or every two months.
When I’m at the office, I wake up, look at the time, and then tell myself I can sleep for five more minutes. I sleep for ten more minutes. I try to read a few pages of my book in the morning before making a quick breakfast (usually yoghurt and an egg) before heading out.
We have a lot of people with a range of skills in the office and it’s always great to interact and discuss the challenges of the day. While we are constructing projects, most of my work is based around what is happening with construction. Are the drawings approved? Have they constructed correctly? Are the components that are installed working? What do my engineers need to do to ensure everything runs smoothly next week?
These components can easily be planned. But when you have a large project, surprises do come up and it’s up to the engineers to solve these problems as soon as possible!
Then…maybe once a month, I get on the train to the airport. This passes by an old, dirty, coal station that is going to soon be shut down because we are building so many wind farms. Then onto a plane, then into a car, and then I drive 2-5 hours to our project sites. The sites are situated in various places. Some are close to the beach, some are in forests, some are out on the escarpment, some are in the most BEAUTIFUL places on earth. Site visits are always special. These are never the same and there are always stories to tell. I once got lost on a mountain but don’t tell my boss about that.
After work, I usually go to the gym. Or go out to theatre, a music gig, an art gallery, or to see friends, and family. I don’t watch much TV but I love watching educational YouTube videos. And before I fall asleep, I like to read again.
What I'd do with the money
I would get one of you to make something cool!
I have a passion for ideas that are made into a reality.
This is why I want to use the prize money to make something! But I’m not going to make anything – you are!
You probably have a great idea that will revolutionise the energy industry! Or do something that is energy efficient. Or uses robots or drones to do something nifty and new. I want you to realise this dream that you have and allow you to use the money to make this dream invention of yours (or your school’s engineering club) into reality.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Curious Explorative Passionate
What's the best thing you've done in your career?
Building the first wind farm in South Africa
Were you ever in trouble at school?
My friends used to get in trouble but the teachers always let me go!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
A professional beach goer
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
Experimental Fine Dining
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Getting lost in many, many, many cities
Tell us a joke.
What did the cheese say when it looked in the mirror? Halloumi!