Making change

THRIVING: Shereen Bogosing. 20/09/07. © Unknown.
THRIVING: Shereen Bogosing. 20/09/07. © Unknown.

She's black, intelligent and determined to change the face of the engineering world.

She's black, intelligent and determined to change the face of the engineering world.

Shereen Tebogo Bogosing, 35, a civil engineering technologist, is so passionate about this male-dominated industry that she founded her own consulting business - making her one of the few black women in Gauteng to own an engineering firm.

Since the launch of Inimba Holdings, which traded as Kgatelopele Consulting Engineers in 2001 when Bogosing started, the business has grown into a thriving firm with an annual turnover of about R5 million.

The company's services include transportation planning, traffic calming, public transport planning, assessment of public transport facilities, water sani- tation, and road and pavement design.

Bogosing, a mother of a three-year-old daughter, has a staff compliment of 23 people and has offices in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo.

She tells Khanyisile Nkosi how she made her dream a reality.

Question: You worked for a few engineering firms before you started your own company. What made you quit?

Answer: I realised that I was good at what I do and good enough to start my own company. I resigned a day after I obtained my B-Tech degree. By that time I had already registered a company and had secured my first project.

Q: Was it difficult to start the business?

A: No it wasn't. I was lucky that I got my first job a day before I resigned. I was also confident because I knew the job very well.

Q: Who are your clients?

A: It's the municipalities, the national Department of Transport, the Department of Public Works and the Johannesburg Roads Agency.

Q: As a woman did you find it difficult to get clients?

A: There were times when I had to work very hard to convince clients. Some didn't take me seriously simply because I'm a woman. Also I found that it was difficult to network with potential clients (mostly men) because most of them preferred to schedule meetings after hours, which became a problem for me as I had to be home to resume my role as a mother and wife. I have also realised that most deals are sealed at the golf course, which is why I have taken up the sport.

Q: How do you juggle your roles as a businesswoman, a mother and wife?

A: I usually do all my business work in the office so that I'm able to give all my attention to my family when I get home. If I have to take some work home I only start working around 2am when everybody is asleep. I'm used to waking up at 2am, I've been doing it since my matric days.

Q: What has been a major challenge since you started the business?

A: Late payments from clients.

Q: How did it affect the business and what did you do when that happened?

A: It used to create problems because I had to scratch elsewhere for money to pay staff, but, in a nutshell, there's really not much to do, you just hope and pray that they pay you on time.

Q: What keeps you going?

A: Knowing that I'm contributing to the planning, provision, maintenance and operation of infrastructure for developing disadvantaged communities and also that I have created job opportunities for our people.

What to do to start your own consulting firm:

l Study and be passionate about what you are learning.

l Gain experience in the workplace.

l Register a company.

l Have knowledge of project management, business and finances.

l Be professional at all times.