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passion were essentially lacking was quite a shocker. I was also caught off guard by the lack of safety on-site – certain procedures were mere guidelines, as opposed to being imprinted and enforced. However, I also remembered those days as the first time I really felt at home in my workplace – that feeling of getting goose bumps at the smell of water reacting with chemicals, getting excited at the smell of healthy sludge. I was introduced to the water care field by a coach that had a passion for his work – someone who was contagious in allowing me to discover water on a level most people never experience. I remember my interaction with him leaving me feeling like a child opening a new lucky packet – the type of excitement that could not be hampered by the limitations and restrictions I faced. As most of the senior positions in the organisation I worked for were filled by men, I was regularly reminded that I should focus on being a process assistant and leave the process controller functions to them. The biggest frustration in all of this was not being allowed to rectify problems that I noticed, not being allowed to contribute to solutions for the problems we were facing. Through all of this, however, I kept on trying to climb out of the ‘thinking box’ – I kept on asking questions and remained teachable. This ultimately helped me to connect to those people who were willing to coach me, who were willing to answer my ‘silly’ questions and give me new opportunities. Through the years, I have discovered myself through water. Through these tough times, I have learned that you need to have certain traits to be a process controller. Through it all, I have learned that the most precious gift you can give someone is to believe in them and help them break through the proverbial glass ceiling.

Fezeka Zwane is a technical trainer

Fezeka Zwane’s story

Without water, there is no life. And without a process controller, there is no life for the millions of consumers working in our industries, factories and offices. Yet, this profession is not recognised for what it is worth. We have the best engineers designing potable water, wastewater and industrial water treatment plants; but without a qualified process controller, all this is in vain. I entered this sector without knowing its importance – all I needed was a job. However, what I did not know was that the sector would swallow me whole! It is a man’s world in this field but we (women) should make our presence felt. Sometimes, we enter this sector to fill the ‘equity quota’ within the various organisations; but the truth is that we have arrived (with the knowledge and skills we have gained) and we can and do make the water sector work. I started off as a process quality advisor. It was not easy at first, dealing with men as old as my dad, with 15 to 30 years’ experience under their belt. But respect and humility go a long way in breaking communication, gender and age barriers. As they say, time flies when you are having fun. I find myself in the training and development space, training the new generation of process controllers – the source of life.

Attendees at the Gauteng woman process controllers event

Profile for 3S Media

Water&Sanitation Africa September/October 2019  

As the official magazine of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), Water&Sanitation Africa provides updates on industry developments...

Water&Sanitation Africa September/October 2019  

As the official magazine of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), Water&Sanitation Africa provides updates on industry developments...

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