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Zanele Sithole is an up-and-coming young quantity surveyor at RLB Pentad. Prior to joining RLB Pentad she was a shining star at the University of Pretoria. Her academic achievements include coming first runner up in the second year of her BSc Degree in Quantity Surveying in 2013. She joined Golden Key International Honour Society in the same year. She graduated with her BSc degree in Quantity Surveying with distinction in 2014. She also received an academic award in Huis Madelief (university residence) in 2014. Zanele was the best academic student for the third year of study in the BSc Quantity Surveying degree in 2014. She received the Thys Sigle prize for the undergraduate student who obtained the highest aggregate marks in 2014 in Quantities 100 – 300, first year and second year. She also received an award for the best academic achievement in Quantities 300 in 2014.
She received an award for “Best Attitude” (BSc (Hons) QS) which was sponsored by Miss Lotz, the Senior Administrator (Students).
Zanele spoke to in July 2016.
Of all your academic achievements, which one stands out for you and why?
Definitely graduating cum laude with my degree. Like all other teenagers, I had short term goals and visions set for myself to achieve in order get to where I desired to be in the long term, and this was one of them.
Graduating cum laude is my proudest achievement which proved to me that I had the determination and perseverance needed to focus on my modules from the beginning all the way to the end of my academic journey, while living on campus and being submersed in the university’s culture away from all my comfort zones.
I can confidently say I have an enhanced understanding of the teachings and knowledge of the quantity surveying profession and hence a better chance of thriving in the construction industry.
What advice do you have for other young professionals in this industry?
To succeed in the quantity surveying profession you need to be able to work in teams, be flexible and comfortable working indoors and outdoors, be analytical and observant. Most importantly, one should have good listening and communication skills – they play a very important role.
What has been the highlight of your brief career with RLB Pentad?
As a student I undertook my practical and vacation work as a contracting quantity surveyor. RLB Pentad is a professional quantity surveying practice and the contrasts in industry exposure are amazingly different.
The first project I was involved in exposed me to great new opportunities and encouraged me to acquire independence. We flew all the way across the country to the Eastern Cape for the site visits for this particular project, and it was the most amazing experience for me and my first time traveling by plane.
During the site visit I was given the opportunity to interact independently with the team, being introduced to the physical site, which is so different from Pretoria, and understanding the overall project with limited supervision. As a young and junior Quantity Surveyor in the company, this was the greatest opportunity and exposure to grow and learn. During the course of this site visit I received wonderfully balanced guidance from my superiors. For a junior quantity surveyor, this proved to be a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn in a hands-on environment.
In the past few months with RLB Pentad, I have had training on how to use programmes like WinQS and Dimension X to do my work and I have found joy in performing tasks correctly after a couple of practise runs with a patient supervisor. This has been an amazing learning curve for me.
What principles and values do you think are important for a young professional?
RLB Pentad values and encourages good relationships with our industry colleagues. I have quickly learnt that as a young professional you need to be able to form lasting relationships with people in the industry and demonstrate integrity in all your professional undertakings.
A professional should learn to embrace diversity and be open-minded, mentally flexible, responsive and considerate in all their interactions in order to learn and grow in the profession. Most importantly, one should show respect to all other professionals out there.
Explain what contribution you have made to the company since joining it.
I have been the helping hand when one is needed, supportive to my team as much possible, and as active as a team player can be to reach our daily objectives to get tasks completed on time and to ensure that projects run efficiently.
I actively participate in events to represent the company and maintain the company image at events such as those organised by the Women’s Property Network (WPN). I also participate in RLB Link events, which are specifically organised for professionals under 35 in the quantity surveying profession.
Who stands out for you as a role model and why?
As a professional with a young and eager mind, I believe one can have more than one role model, and I have a few.
The first is Vida Hattingh, my supervisor, who has helped me to grow my mindset from that of an enthusiastic but inexperienced university graduate to that of an industry professional. She patiently takes the time to show me how to put all my university knowledge into practice. Not only does she avail herself for my professional training, but she goes out of her way to be supportive and understanding on a personal level, encouraging me to grow through reading inspirational books and ideas.
A second role model to me is Londiwe Magagula, a girl I met whilst at high school (she was a few years my senior). Londiwe is an orphan who was raised by her sisters, but she is one of the strongest and most persevering people I have ever met. She consistently got top academic marks from Grade 6 all the way to matric. Despite all her challenges, she made it a point to achieve her dreams by means of her education. She is someone who will always put others before herself, and whenever possible she lends a hand to those less fortunate. She serves as a constant inspiration and a reminder to me to do for others what I wish done for myself.
Where do you want your career to be in 10 years time?
In ten years’ time, I plan to have acquired my Professional Quantity Surveyor position. I have dreams of travelling and exploring other countries’ methods of quantity surveying, and to explore their construction industries in general. Thereafter, who knows… possibly starting my own quantity surveying practice.

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