Engineering by design

By Kelly-Ann Prinsloo

Jack La Grange currently holds the position of head of department: wet and fire services (principal associate) at WSP Group Africa, a leading global consulting engineering firm.

After receiving his Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) degree, La Grange began his career at a small consulting firm run by DS Brink.

Today, his responsibilities include managing the Design and Drawing Department in terms of workflow quality and conformance to WSP standards. His position includes managing staff, client relationships, and marketing. His role as a principal associate requires his input on business strategy.

A creative approach
La Grange was attracted to the industry because it was an opportunity to make a difference within the sustainable design movement.

“Although there are days when it’s difficult to justify the effort engineers go through to please clients in what is sometimes a thankless industry, I still thoroughly enjoy my work,” explained La Grange. “My favourite part is the creative process of developing buildings with an integrated approach and seeing how they evolve.”

La Grange has been fortunate to work on many building and infrastructure related projects, ranging from private sector work such as hotels, hospitals, offices, laboratories, banks and mines, to parastatal projects such as courts and sport stadiums.

In the future
He predicts a future where privatisation will become a more viable option as municipalities continue to fail in delivering reliable service. Water poses a risk when the supply is disrupted and companies are recognising this.

La Grange wants to see better educated people make informed decisions for South Africa, instead of a nation that continues to squander a finite resource (water).

His work philosophy is simple: work smarter, not harder. “You are a product of your surroundings, so surround yourself with people smarter than you are.”

La Grange was attracted to the industry because it was an opportunity to make adifference within the sustainable design movement.


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