10-YEAR SPECIAL (Part 6) – Growth of a Graduate

The latest in our series of articles celebrating WKC’s 10-year anniversary tells the story of two WKC senior consultants, Ashley and Shivani, and how they have benefited from WKC’s fantastic graduate training scheme.

Making a Difference
(By Ashley Meyer, Senior Consultant – Durban)

As a laid-back youth with long curly hair and half a shirt untucked, I seldom planned too far ahead. As my university application deadline approached, I recall paging through a university brochure from a faculty of ‘Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology’.

I chanced upon the description of a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering, and excited by the idea of delving into some challenging mathematics and physics (who wouldn’t be?!) my decision was made. But like so many students, I didn’t really have any idea where my studies would ultimately take me!

But like so many students, I didn’t really have any idea where my studies would ultimately take me!

Brought on by unforgiving bouts of thermodynamics and numerical methods, I soon realised that my long-term commitment to machine design was an oversight, especially since I hardly even knew how to use a hammer! However, I knuckled down to finish what I had started, without any serious intentions to work as a mechanical engineer.

Ashley in his varsity days – “a laid-back kid with long curly hair”

Fortunately for me, nestled on the north coast of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, WKC was developing its unique but effective hiring strategy. They were hiring graduate engineers for their technical and general problem-solving abilities suited to some of the niche environmental services WKC offer. I saw an opportunity to put my degree to good use, whilst potentially feeling fulfilled in a role as an ‘environmental scientist’.

nestled on the north coast of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, WKC was developing its unique but effective hiring strategy.

I flew to Durban from Pretoria for my interview in 2013. WKC flew me down for the day to meet the company co-founder and director, Dr Ian James, and WKC’s international air quality service lead, Marc Blanché, in their Ballito office. Of course, like any new graduate heading to their first interview I was both nervous and excited. I was pleasantly surprised by both Marc and Ian’s openness, sense of humour and knowledge. I even survived a science quiz from Ian (whom I later learnt to be one of the world’s leading atmospheric chemists); I never knew that learning Avogadro’s number would have been so useful!

Breath-taking views in Ballito, South Africa

I was offered the position of Graduate Environmental Engineer in 2013 shortly after the interview. As the first mechanical engineer hired in the South African office, I was assigned to support and eventually expand the noise/acoustics service line. As part of my training I spent several weeks in the United Arab Emirates. From WKC’s Abu Dhabi office, I received training from our noise and vibration service lead, Richard Palmer.

As part of my training I spent several weeks in the United Arab Emirates.

This is where the most intense and important education of my life kicked in! I learned about the fundamentals of noise and acoustics, becoming proficient in the internationally recognised noise modelling software, SoundPLAN, and also became fully equipped with the skills to assess the risk of acoustically induced failure in piping systems (‘AIV’ and ‘FIV’).

WKC’s strategy of transferring skills between disciplines has cultivated a team of highly skilled and versatile consultants who have helped establish the company as a leading environmental consultancy. This culture has certainly influenced me; as well as establishing myself as a key part in WKC’s noise and vibration work, I have also immersed myself in our important air modelling work. And I don’t intend to stop there! WKC’s popular marine modelling service line presents yet another opportunity to learn new skills and to establish myself as one of WKC’s most valued, multidisciplinary environmental consultants.

WKC’s popular marine modelling service line presents yet another opportunity to learn new skills

Ashley (right) with Marc Blanché (centre) and Wade Draper (left), one of WKC’s newest Graduates

From a Ballito Graduate to The City of Gold!
(By Shivani Naidoo, Senior Consultant – Johannesburg)

I joined WKC as a graduate environmental engineer in 2015 straight out of university with my chemical engineering degree. I was quickly thrown into the robust and all-encompassing graduate training scheme lead by Marc Blanchè and Ian James in WKC’s Ballito office.

This fantastic programme provides graduates with the knowledge and skills to undertake advanced air dispersion and noise modelling studies, amongst other technically focused environmental services.

This fantastic programme provides graduates with the knowledge and skills to undertake advanced air dispersion and noise modelling studies

Combining WKC’s training in inventory development, using specialist pollution modelling software packages and general reporting skills, with my academic background of industrial processes, process flow diagrams and piping and instrumentation diagrams I was developing a valuable skillset.

When presented with the opportunity to shadow WKC Director Dr Ian James on my first environmental Permit Application Package (PAP) project in the Middle East, I could see that my training would be put to good use!

Shivani (centre) with Dr. Ian James (second from right) during a trip to India, where they completed a PAP for a Yanbu Industrial City client

This was my first major project as a professional consultant. Before I knew it, I was on a plane to South Korea to assist in the preparation of complex environmental permitting documentation for the huge, Maaden Ammonia II Project in Ras Al Khair industrial city, Saudi Arabia. Working long hours while enjoying the gracious hospitality of our Korean hosts, Ian and I were able to complete the project within an impressive three-week period to our clients’ complete satisfaction.

I am so grateful to be part of this niche service for which WKC remains one of the leading consultants globally

This project proved to be a stepping-stone to more fantastic projects, seeing me travel to India, the Far East and the Middle East, furthering my career in the process. I am so grateful to be part of this niche service for which WKC remains one of the leading consultants globally, having received praise multiple times for being able to meet high technical standards and seemingly impossible deadlines!

Shivani enjoying some delicious Korean delicacies!

After starting out in WKC’s Ballito office on their graduate programme, as reward for my hard work and dedication, I was given the opportunity to lead WKC’s expansion into Johannesburg. From my office in Johannesburg, as well as working on a wide variety of international projects, I am also able to act as WKC’s local contact for clients based in South Africa’s fantastic ‘City of Gold’.

I was given the opportunity to lead WKC’s expansion into Johannesburg.

Working at WKC has instilled much more confidence in myself and my abilities, not just technical, but now also my managerial skills – I am now contributing towards new graduates’ careers! The senior management team invest a lot of time and effort into tailoring a great career path for all WKC graduates.

Shivani (right), Marc Blanché (centre) and Devania Govender – currently on the WKC Graduate scheme – in the Johannesburg office

The senior management team invest a lot of time and effort into tailoring a great career path for all WKC graduates.

Previous 10-Year Special Stories:

Share This Post: