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"The hardest lesson Ive learned is no matter what, always keep humble and firm," says Disruptor, Makotsene Makgalemele.

AsmalFor Makotsene Makgalemele, civil engineering is about more than just buildings.

“It’s all about improving people’s lives. The more comfortable people are and the easier they can navigate their surroundings, the better their lives are,” says this 31-year-old associate director of civil engineering company, HHO Africa.

Some of the projects she has worked on include overseeing the development of part of the MyCiti bus route in Cape Town. “That was an interesting one,” she says. “I was responsible for verifying the design’s integrity and making sure the bus stops were easily accessible.”

So what does a typical day look like for an associate director of one the country’s biggest civil engineering firms? “I manage people, mostly.

But I also have to make sure of the profitability of our projects and that the contractors are doing their job.In 2014, Makgalemele was named Consulting Engineers South Africa’s Young Engineer of the Year – something she didn’t see coming. “The first thing I thought was: “Really?”. I was completely blindsided by the award. But in the end, I’m glad I clinched it. I was honored.”