Awarded the ARUP-Zimbabwe Prize for the best graduating civil engineering student in 2016
Working on the design and construction of energy infrastructure projects across Africa and Europe
Being an ICE STEM Ambassador
A day in my life
My typical day begins with a nice warm breakfast (when I’m not running late) then a 15-minute walk to the office – the walk counts as part of my daily dose of exercise!
Each day is an adventure as it provides an opportunity to learn, share knowledge, and apply scientific principles and creativity to solve real life problems, ensuring our infrastructure is sustainable, climate resilient, and safe.
What makes civil engineering really cool are the civil engineers!
What inspired you to become a civil engineer?
When I was exploring my options at university, I knew I wanted to study engineering, but I wasn’t sure which type.
My options were electrical engineering, mining engineering, mechanical engineering and civil engineering.
I chose civil engineering because it sounded cooler than the rest – which it actually is!
We asked Fionah…
I would recommend a career in civil engineering because…
It’s an amazing journey of self-discovery where you get to work on a wide range of activities to identify what you’re most passionate about.
It’s also a rewarding experience because you have the opportunity to learn from the best as well as grow not only professionally, but also on a personal level.
What’s the biggest/most complex thing you’ve made out of Lego? How long did it take you?
I’ve never made anything out of Legos before, but I do have a Rubik’s cube I’ve had since I was little, and I haven’t solved it until now!
Complete this phrase: I’m a civil engineer, but I’m also…
A data science enthusiast – I love programming and coding.
What about being a civil engineer gets you out of bed each morning?
The amazing opportunity to learn something new through collaborative, real-life problem solving to develop communities and make the world a better place.
The other thing are the people you get to meet and interact with because what makes civil engineering really cool are the civil engineers!
What’s one great thing that you love about civil engineering that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?
How diverse civil engineering is, giving you the opportunity to identify your niche.
You can work in any sector of the economy, be it in transport, water, research and development, energy, even politics!
The other thing I didn’t know until I joined the civil engineering fraternity is the great sense of pride that comes from contributing team efforts to projects that positively impact societies.
Which civil engineering project (past or present) do you wish you’d worked on?
The great pyramids of Giza definitely!
I would’ve loved to experience how the ancient Egyptians coordinated the construction of such phenomenal structures without modern construction technologies such as cranes for lifting the building blocks.
Name one civil engineering myth you’d like to bust.
Civil engineering is all about hard hats and muddy boots!
Contrary to this, civil engineering is more that wearing hard hats and safety boots.
If being on site and wearing a hard hat isn’t your thing, you can wear your cute heels in the design office or rock your favourite part of jeans while presenting at a TED talk!
Has civil engineering helped you overcome any personal hurdles/difficulties?
It’s made me a better communicator because I used to be very shy when speaking up for myself.
As a civil engineer, part of your daily activities involve communicating information to various clients and stakeholders.
You need to be able to effectively communicate a topic, be it via email, a written report or an even an oral presentation.
Your audience needs to understand what you are trying to say even when you are discussing a complex technical topic. This exposure will boost your self-confidence!
What motivated you, or is motivating you, to become professionally qualified?
I’m currently working towards being a Charted Engineer with the ICE because it’s a prestigious mark of quality, high standards of professionalism, and performance.
What does being professionally qualified with the ICE mean for your career?
It will demonstrate my professional commitment to raising standards of knowledge and technical competency as well as commitment to continuing professional development.
How did the ICE and your employer support you to become professionally qualified?
Currently my employer and the ICE are supporting my chartership journey by providing guidance on my career appraisal application, which has been incredibly helpful.
What do you value most about being an ICE member?
Being an ICE member is a perfect opportunity to boost one’s career. You also get the chance take part in ICE activities such as attending industry events, training courses, and volunteering.
How has being a member helped your career?
It has given me the opportunity to be mentored by experienced engineers who have positively influenced my career progression.
It has also expanded my professional network and I’ve had the opportunity to interact with other professionals through ICE STEM Ambassador activities.
Any personal causes or hobbies?
I’m an adrenaline junky. I have successfully crossed the Victoria Falls bungee jump (one of the best bungee jumps in the world) off my bucket list!
I also love creating engineering resources for children such as games and comics to raise civil engineering awareness.
The Hwange Expansion project
I worked as a civil project engineer at the Hwange Expansion project from 2019 to 2020, overseeing the construction of a thermal power plant.
Fiona's career path
- BSc Civil Engineering, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
- Graduate maintenance engineer, Hwange Power Station, Zimbabwe
- MEng in Civil Engineering (specialising in Construction Engineering and Management), Stellenbosch University, South Africa
- Civil project engineer, Hwange Expansion Project, Zimbabwe
- MSc in Sustainability and Environmental Studies, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
- Civil engineer, Hinkley Point C Project, United Kingdom
- Civil engineer, Sizewell C Project, United Kingdom
- Kariba South Extension Project (hydro power)
- Hwange Expansion Project (thermal power)
- Hinkely Point C (nuclear power)
- Sizewell C (nuclear power)