27th March 2019

Winfrida Swai: Outnumbered Does Not Mean Unwelcome

My engineering class at St. Joseph University was extensively dominated by male students. We were just 16 female students out of 130 eager students working towards attaining a degree in Electrical Engineering. A staggering 80:20 ratio (and I am being generous) doesn’t really serve as motivation but still, we persisted. I must say, this built a bit of fear in me and you can understand why!

Fast forward to 2017, I emerge in the real world of engineering as an intern at CSI Energy Group and now, in 2019 I work as a Project Engineer – a blessing I do not take lightly. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded with a supportive & dynamic team. My line manager and peers ensure I feel empowered in a male-dominated environment, encouraging me to further develop my technical skills and expand my knowledge in product competency.

Knowledge sharing is a common team ritual here, and I’ve gained strengths about dealing with common technical problems through training sessions organised by the company.

As a Project Engineer working at the Kinyerezi II 240MW (the first combined cycle power plant in East Africa) and Kinyerezi I Extension 185MW power plant projects, supervision is one of the key roles that I play. You may wonder how I manage given the vast number of men at site; my response would be unwavering courage, a keen sense of integrity, an aggressive yet humble personality and understanding the essence of my role on the overall success of the projects.

As a female engineer working in the field, it takes time to be trusted. I have had to put in extra effort to prove to people that I can do this – I took this as a personal challenge. Rather than complain about it, I chose to approach it positively and this has made me tougher than I ever was before.

 

Being the first born in a family of three and working at CEG has also taught me to be an early riser. I have to catch the early morning bus to work six days a week. This has increased my grit, persistence, will power and determination to ensure I go the extra mile and thus increasing my productivity both at work and at home.

The Journey at CEG has been challenging at times but mostly fun. I would never wish to be in another environment. This is my PASSION. This is my calling and I urge other women wishing to take this path not to second guess themselves as you can be whoever you want to be – you just have to put in work.

Pictures