South African Engineer to lead Aurecon’s global network for emerging professionals

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Cape Town-based Civil Engineer Rebecca Ilunga, of global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon, has been chosen as the Global Chair of Aurecon’s Limelight committee, the company’s network for emerging professionals. It is the first time that the Global Limelight Chair resides in the African region. Ilunga is excited to have Katie Brown, an Aurecon Structural Engineer from Adelaide in Australia, as her Global Vice-chair.

Ilunga joined Aurecon’s Graduate Programme in January 2015 after completing her degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town. She is a member of Aurecon’s Water Unit working on hydrology, water resources planning, and flood modelling, as well as projects relating to climate change impacts and adaption responses in Africa. Ilunga is currently completing her Master’s degree in Water and Environmental Management with Loughborough University

She is looking forward to leading the Limelight team ‒ with its key purpose to help enable young professionals easily slot into the business and start gaining career direction at Aurecon. From events across various regions, buddy and mentor programmes, to meet-ups and discussions about self-management and client relationships, Limelight provides the platform for incoming graduates to make the transition into the professional world.

“When you’re studying, it’s easy to feel that what you are doing doesn’t really have any real impact or significance. Joining the workforce not only means that school and university related assignments are a thing of the past, but it’s the start of a journey of discovery to find what you are really passionate about and how you can make a contribution to engineering and the community,” says Ilunga.

She says that joining a global engineering company that has over 85 years of experience in the water sector is something that she would recommend to engineering students who will be joining the workforce next year. Ilunga hopes to foster a “LENS” through which emerging professionals build a Legacy, Engage with Aurecon voices, Networks, and feel Supported.

“As a young engineer, your destiny is very much dependent on the environment you find yourself in. I believe that the Limelight committee and the Aurecon workplace help to foster a fertile environment; the benefits being that they expose you to unchartered territory and many opportunities to explore things that have never been done before,” explains Ilunga.

Aurecon was the right decision for her for a number of reasons, she says: “There’s something magnetic about the people at Aurecon. I’ve been exposed to leading professionals in their field and people who are always questioning the status quo. The scale of the projects that graduates get to work on and the innovation behind the projects are astounding. For many young engineers, it would be unprecedented to get involved in such projects so early in your career. The culture that Aurecon has created also means that graduates can find their niche. If the niche doesn’t yet exist, there’s space to carve one out for yourself in the business.”

In her free time, Ilunga enjoys boxing and being an active member of her church. Her biggest role model is her mother, described as a strong woman who showed her that anything is possible.

Ilunga hopes to see more women and people of colour in leadership positions in STEM-based global organisations such as Aurecon in the next five years.

“You can’t be what you can’t see, which is one of the reasons why I raised my hand for this position. I look forward to leading the Global Limelight Committee and serving our incoming graduates in the 2018/2019 financial year,” concludes Ilunga.

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