One woman powerhouse: Patricia Mazibuko

Plumbing Africa talks to quantity surveyor Patricia Mazibuko about the obstacles she faces in a male dominated field.

Can you provide us with a brief overview of your background and qualifications?
May you describe your career so far?
I have an engineering construction management qualification obtained from the Tshwane University of Technology, as well as a National Diploma in quantity surveying from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I also studied a management advancement programme at Wits Business School. I am now doing a Master’s degree in business systems through the Wismar Hochschule University in Germany, where the Virtus Interpress editorial board has published my thesis in the Journal of Governance and Regulations in the Ukraine.

I am employed as a general manager National Building Regulations (NBR) at the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), which falls within the area of responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry. My role as the head of the business unit is to promote uniformity in the interpretation of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act No. 103 of 1977). The scope entails development and/or revision, as well as amendment of technical regulations within the built environment on the elements of general building works and trades, such as plumbing, waterproofing, timber, tiling and concrete works. This is the mandate regulated by the NRCS, with the implementation and the enforcement performed by building control officers at local authorities nationwide. This is an oversight role for the NRCS.

My strategic responsibilities include the administration of the NBR’s Review Board on appeals as per the applicable regulation, as well as ensuring that building defects inspections or architectural investigations are conducted with the Regulator being an impartial party and on request from the minister of Trade and Industry.

“When I want to talk about what needs to be done, I get men involved, but when I want to get things done … I surround myself with women!”

What is your best achievement so far?

My best project so far was the Alexandra Urban Renewal Project, which entailed the refurbishment of an Alexandra township hostel. It was exciting because it was so emotional. It wasn’t about refurbishing the buildings as a structure, but about bringing hope and changing peoples’ lives.

I am also intrigued by being a part of the journey to revise the current Building and Standards Act, which is aimed at protecting the building occupants’ rights in terms of health and safety, as well as to ensure that all buildings are of sound quality for human occupancy. The review is aimed at full coverage of building structures (both formal and informal) and traditional municipalities. When you actively participate and contribute to policy-making processes, it makes you appreciate the value they add to the transformation that is occurring within the built-environment and the country.

What is the biggest challenge faced by women in a male-dominated workplace?
Men make sure they are heard for the sake of their egos; women on the other hand have to push to get a point across and not just to be seen. My goal is to overcome this challenge. When I want to talk about what needs to be done, I get men involved, but when I want to get things done … I surround myself with women!

How do you balance your career with your family life?
I balance career with family, as my family becomes part of what I do. My daughter is the pillar of my strength and I learn so much from her. When I had to do an assignment called ‘Mission to Mars’ for my Master’s thesis, she did so much of the background research work, I had to acknowledge her! This sort of thing comes so easily to her. It makes my career and my day-to-day life easier with the support of a family.

Have you encouraged any other women to follow in your footsteps?
Yes, I have. You do not have to be a large and powerful company before you engage in corporate social investment. You can do it as an individual. I have been mentoring my intern, Nqabakazi Thomson. I see myself through her, and she is a mirror of me! We have a programme in place that exposes her to construction management, quantity surveying and mentorship. In addition, my former PA, Modiehi Kobe, worked with me on the Alexandra Renewal Project as a housing officer. She pushed herself to excel and I am honoured to have been able to play a part in that. Today, she is the CEO of an NGO in the Free State.

What should employers do to try and tackle gender inequality?
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Employers need to view both genders equally. They need to recognise and capitalise on everyone’s strengths. They need to support all employees to achieve their goals, rather than regarding gender as an issue.

I would like to establish my own quantity surveying and construction management practice.

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