Engineers can lead the way to a better society

Vishaal Lutchman (Pr Eng, FSAICE, FSAAE, FICE), Vice President of SAICE and Managing Director of Transport at Zutari, poses a question in these difficult times: How do we reverse the downward spiral in South Africa to create a brighter future for the country, motivated by improvements in the infrastructure system?

“Similar to when I was growing up in the 80s, South Africa is once again  experiencing turbulent times, but for different reasons. However, all the negative issues of loadshedding, failing infrastructure, collapsing healthcare, increasing
unemployment, poor housing and a failed education system are self-inflicted or own goals by leaders of this generation,” says Vishaal. One solution he proposes is ensuring that our country’s youth are empowered with a solid tertiary education. In this regard, institutions like SAICE have a fundamental role to play in promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to ensure that our future leaders excel in building infrastructure to sustain future generations by enabling sustainable socio-economic growth. This must be done with a selfless mindset and with society in mind. Unfortunately, many of our current leaders do not share this mindset or are not capable of articulating the complexity of infrastructure provision today.

Vishaal recounts his experience during his studies and professional career: “Inequality and empowerment were the uppermost priorities for some of my student colleagues during my university career, who chose to fight the legacy system of institutionalised apartheid within the institution and in the workplace. I concurred, but chose a different approach, to influence change in the system from a knowledge point of view. I needed to expand and ingest as much knowledge as I could to take advantage of my ‘privileged’ education and to effect change by applying my  knowledge to help others that needed such knowledge. I believe that vision is as true today as it was then. It is about leading with a wide appreciation for complexity in infrastructure in a cognitive state rather than an emotional one.” 

He adds, “A stimulating and dynamic consulting environment reinforced my purpose that everything we do is really related to looking after people, so my driving passion became about how I create an impact to benefit the lives of people.”

It is this leadership and vision that Vishaal believes will underpin his multi-faceted role within SAICE. He remains steadfast in his commitment to promoting STEM-related education as a priority, and broadening the vision of the country’s youth and young engineering professionals to think differently from a young age so that they become better leaders in the future. “I see my role as Vice President as being to promote these ideals and to help direct contributions towards sustainable strategies to meet the current and future challenges that we are sure to face as a country. This is what young engineers should aspire to – to think beyond just structures to changing the structural dynamics of infrastructure in our country to enable a better future for all. “It is not just about building infrastructure but driving socioeconomic growth. There are many initiatives underway to promote STEM education and foster strong mentorship programmes with our young professionals, fostered by like-minded individuals within SAICE, and I see it as part of my role to help consolidate these initiatives to help SAICE and support our industry to build a new identity and be a major contributor in the creation of a just society,” enthuses Vishaal.

“I recognise the passion expressed by younger engineers and their frustration with a government that allows the collapse of essential infrastructure through neglect, incompetence, and corruption. Becoming the best engineer you can be, where your skills and knowledge help to uplift living standards by providing essential life-giving infrastructure that can create a prosperous society where all can benefit, is a worthwhile determination,” he adds. Vishaal is therefore using his own story as encouragement. “Realising a purpose – a means to an end – has been my mantra in life. That is what engineers do, they apply their acquired skills and learn to design and create infrastructure – roads, bridges, water and sanitation, for example – for the betterment of society. Pursuing your passions in a professional career can bring you greater fulfilment in the contributions you make to society.”

At Zutari, we believe in co-creating an engineered impact enable environments, communities and economies to thrive.

Zutari is an infrastructure advisory, design, and engineering consultancy. In the past 90 years, we’ve formed a deep-rooted relationship with Africa, the Middle East, and its people. Staying in business for almost a century is a testament to our agility and resilience.

Our broad collective of in-house, industry-recognised engineering consultants and trusted advisors provide seamless and integrated delivery of infrastructure projects. These solutionists combine their technical mastery, creative intelligence, and digital smarts to reframe traditional engineering for a new world.

Get in touch!

Articles Contact Form (#17)
*Compulsory information. Click here to read our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy.
A new synthesis report on Global Stocktake elements, published by the UN Climate Change, is expected to take centre stage at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 from 30 November to 12 December, predicts Dr Thapelo Letete, Director: Climate Change at Zutari. Letete will represent the leading consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory practice at an important framework session on climate transparency in developing countries on the final day of COP28.
Leading consulting engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Zutari not only had an independently adjudicated best oral and poster presentation at the 7th Young Water Professionals (YWP ) conference that took place from 8 to 10 November in Stellenbosch, it also had a significant involvement in organising the event itself.
Scroll to Top