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EP004 - How vague goals can lead to a disastrous engineering careers with Itumeleng Mmutloane

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

The dawn of the South African democracy in 1993 meant more opportunities for many South Africans.

Access to higher education was one of the opportunities that many black South Africans did not have.

According to Stats SA Education Series Volume V, there was 98095 first-time enrolment at South African public universities. By 2016, the first-time enrollment increased by 61% to 158 891 [1].

In the year 2020, Wits University received 68 752 first-year applications. There were 19 000 engineering studies applications, which made up the institution's highest number of applications [2].

First-generation engineers

Many first-generation university students graduated, and many of them never had role models or mentors to guide them along the way.

The lack of role-models or mentors meant that they had to make their own mistakes along the way and improve as they progress.

Engineering in Africa Episode 4

In Episode 4 of the Engineering in Africa Podcast, Nkululeko speaks with Itumeleng Mmutloane about his experience.

Itumeleng is a Mechanical Engineer with a Master's in Engineering Management and has over 11 years of industry experience. He occupies a very senior engineering role. His experience in the private sector, State-Owned Enterprise, Local Government, and Provincial Government in South Africa gives him the advantage of having a unique perspective regarding engineering career development.

Itumeleng's humble township beginnings will sure inspire young students and graduates coming up ranks. Senior engineers can draw wisdom on their role as mentors to junior employees.

Itumeleng shares some tips he wished he knew during his early engineering days, which include:

  • The importance of patience and sticking it out with one employer.

  • The importance of having engineering role-models and mentors as you progress with your career.

  • Balancing the notion of believing in yourself and the ability to accept advice.

  • Setting realistic engineering career goals.

The above matters tend to lead to many graduates setting vague goals, leading to a disastrous engineering career plan.


[1] Stats SA, Education Series Volume V, Higher Education and Skills in South Africa, 2017, Download link:

[2] Wits University, Registration for New and Returning Students, Website:


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