For tackling tough infrastructure projects with an eye toward social and economic change
As a kid, Innocentia Mahlangu would spend hours building elaborate model houses from cardboard boxes. Learning the fundamentals of electricity allowed her to elevate her DIY designs with lights. And when she came across a bag of cement one day, she wasted no time in upgrading her materials to build a sturdier home. “I realized my true passion was in creating things,” she says.
Mahlangu pursued her passion in earnest—first earning a degree in civil engineering, then working on feasibility studies for railway infrastructure projects, before stepping up as one of South Africa’s very few female construction managers to oversee a multimillion-rand railway project. More recently, she’s managed multidiscipline projects in mining, metals and infrastructure sectors at Hatch.
In a field dominated by men, she’s had few women role models to emulate. But her quick ascent is fueled, in part, by having a clear understanding of her impact: If Mahlangu does her job well, she’ll deliver tangible improvements for local residents—and provide career inspiration for future women leaders. To that end, last year, she founded SHEngineers, a nonprofit virtual mentor network for women in engineering.