Dr Tony Igboamalu, currently employed by engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon (rebranding as Zutari), has been named the South African Professional Services Awards’ (SAPSA) Young Engineering Professional of the Year for 2019/2020.
Dr Tony Igboamalu, senior consultant, asset management, Aurecon
Engineers should be involved in large-scale projects that significantly impact the well-being of communities, says Igboamalu: “The reason why we are engineers is that good, safe infrastructure is a priority for the livelihood and longevity of our communities.”
“The future of our business relies on the education and skills of tomorrow’s leaders,” comments Aurecon Africa CEO Gustav Rohde. “We are a firm believer in education as a driver for skills development.”
Igboamalu received his Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Anambra State University in Uli, Nigeria at 23. He completed his Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Science in Chemical Engineering: Water Utilisation at the University of Pretoria in 2011, followed by a Master’s (with distinction) in 2014 and a PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2019 at only 32.
A dream fulfilled
He joined Aurecon in 2016 as a water and wastewater engineer in the Tshwane office. “It has been my dream company since 2012 due to its technical knowledge, which suited my professional development. During my PhD work, I received a lot of support from the company, which I appreciated a lot.”
“I believe in continuous learning and development. There is both formalised and informal mentoring with the professionals we interact with in the different projects. Mentorship is key to a successful career, and I have had the privilege to be part of this,” highlights Igboamalu, who has mentored masters and undergraduate students at the University of Pretoria.
He was also introduced to a Youth Engagement Forum Initiative, as well as a secondary school science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills transfer programme in Diepsloot. “I am able to share my love of engineering, research and the positive impact the profession can have on society in terms of future-ready engineers and leaders.”
Passion for sustainability
Igboamalu says that his driving passion is sustainability and understanding the link between water and poverty alleviation. “My aim is to improve the lives of impoverished communities throughout Africa by being involved in projects that directly affect their access to critical resources such as water.
“My work in the water sector and as an environmental researcher is focusing my research portfolio on improving and developing water and sanitation infrastructure and environmental sustainability to benefit communities.” He stresses that access to water is critical during the current Covid-19 crisis, in addition to the effective management, operation and maintenance of our potable water supply.
“I would like to see a continent where all African children have access to clean water and sanitation. I believe that effective solutions in this regard can be supplied by an effective engineering advisory role in addressing water and sanitation problems through the combination of engineering solution with finance, investment and economics,” adds Igboamalu.
Good mentorship is key
His message for Youth Month 2020 is that young engineers should understand why they studied engineering at university. “Tertiary education only equips us, but our career development depends on our personal efforts. Secondly, good mentorship is the key to success. Find someone that will mentor or make a meaningful impact in your life.”
Behind every successful young engineer is an extensive support structure, and Dr. Igboamalu pays tribute to his family. “My dad, Chief Francis Igboamalu, who passed away recently, has been my backbone and spiritual guide. In addition, my brothers Dr Christian Igboamalu, Dr Frank Igboamalu and Henry Igboamalu have been very supportive. Lastly, my wife and two beautiful boys gives me courage to go beyond my limits.”