For Genesis Energy Mechanical Engineer Angie Du Randt, working in energy and infrastructure has opened the door to opportunities to live abroad and pursue a passion for mountain biking.
As one of our new Connexis Ultimit Ambassadors, Angie shows that work enables play and that your personality defines your career and not the other way around.
“Engineer by trade, cyclist at heart,” is how she describes herself.
Angie never started out with her current job in mind. She has just said “yes” to opportunities as they came and followed wherever her interests led her. Being both sporty and academic meant walking a path that challenged her mind and body, from working on long-term energy sustainability projects to inspecting power station boilers.
Born and bred in Free State, South Africa, Angie liked school and always enjoyed learning new skills. While at high school, her mother organised for her to do a site tour of the petrochemical plant she worked at as a personal assistant. Angie came away intrigued and excited. She was blown away by the idea that you can take natural resources to create something entirely new.
This led Angie to university and a five-year degree in Chemical Engineering. While there, she also did vocational work at Eskom, a state-owned electricity utility. After graduating, Angie got a job at the same utility, where she stayed for four years until the opportunity arose for her and her husband to relocate to New Zealand.
Angie and her husband, also a Mechanical Engineer, have worked for Genesis Energy since 2018 and have been making the most of both the ‘work and play’ sides of their lives ever since.
Taking full advantage of the flexible workhours at Genesis, they enjoy touring the country, usually with their bikes in tow. A highlight was their trip to the South Island, where Angie fell in love with Christchurch. They are also grateful for the fact their jobs allow them to save for a house something which will become a higher priority should they have children.
Genesis has opened doors for Angie on a professional level too, and she is excited to have a platform for causes that are important to her. She has a Certificate in Business Sustainability Management from Cambridge University and is using her knowledge to promote energy efficiency in the Asset Strategy Team. Genesis Energy announced plans in late 2020 to develop more renewable electricity generation, and cut its annual carbon emissions by 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2025. It aims to do this via substantial investment in solar, wind and geothermal projects as part of its vision to “empower New Zealand’s sustainable future.”
She is also involved in Girls in Hi-Vis, a Connexis initiative to introduce high schoolers to the industry, which is happily returning in 2021 after being postponed in 2020 due to Covid. There is always at least one girl with a spark in her eye at the end of these events, according to Angie. One is enough, she says, to have an impact on the industry. Last year too, Angie took part in Women in Energy, which took place online during lockdown. These programmes are an attempt by the industry to address the systemic barriers to recruiting women.
Despite being a champion of women in infrastructure, Angie plays down the obstacles she has faced in her career. Her parents empowered her to believe there were no limits to her potential, and she was not going to let fear hold her back. She admits her first day working in a Power Station was intimidating but says it is those scary experiences that bring the biggest rewards.
To anyone thinking about a career in infrastructure, Angie echoes the words of fellow Ultimit Ambassador Laisa Pickering: “Go for it”.
“Take all opportunities and don’t be afraid,” she says. She also acknowledges that many women fear making mistakes. “You don’t have to know it all,” she says.
“Trust your gut.”
The energy industry is moving away from old ideas about gender roles and working hard to open doors to women. In 2018, Genesis embarked upon a new programme to reduce the gender pay gap, reducing it to just 1.4% in 2020 for males and females doing equal value work. Angie says it is heartening to see the industry ‘walking the talk’ in this respect, although she admits it was bittersweet. While it made her feel valued and appreciated, she says women should never be paid less in the first place, regardless of industry. She stresses though the need to look forward and not get caught up in past inequities. She also urges women not to use perceived gender biases as an excuse to dismiss an infrastructure career.
Where to next for this inspirational young woman? Wherever the opportunities lie, according to Angie. She plans to keep saying “yes” (discerningly, of course) and it will only be on reflection that she will be able to pinpoint the pivotal moments that moved her career forward.