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Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day, a SHEQ Manager’s perspective

International Women in Engineering Day, this year on the 23 June, is an annual celebration of the fantastic impact that women make to engineering internationally.  It aims to highlight outstanding female engineers and showcase the amazing opportunities available to future female engineers.

In support of this important day, Marine People will be showcasing inspirational international female engineers in our weekly blog to demonstrate the different roles available within engineering; the career development opportunities, and also to provide some insight in to what it is like to be a female engineer in different parts of the world.

So, let us introduce our first engineer:

Hermoine Manuel, SHEQ Manager for Nautic Africa based in Cape Town.

Here is her interview.

1)   How long have you been in engineering and what is your role?

I’ve been in the marine industry for 11 years. 7 years at my previous company where we manufactured deck equipment, such as winches and deck cranes for the fishing and shipping industries. I have been at Nautic for 4 years. We’re shipbuilders, and I am the Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality (SHEQ) Manager.

2)   Why did you become an engineer?

An ever-present curiosity about how things work, since childhood.

3)   What are the best parts of your role?

My role is advantageous in the sense that I am involved in all of the processes within the organisation. Therefore, I get to know about everyone’s role & responsibilities, which allows a holistic understanding of the business, and all its functions.

4)   What challenges have you encountered?

Although SHEQ is a department on its own, the difference to other teams is that everyone in the organisation has as big a responsibility towards safety, quality and the environment as part of their core functions. For example, your responsibility towards your own safety and those around you is something that is legislated. So, the challenge is to keep this responsibility at the forefront of everyone’s mind, until it becomes second nature, and then you need to maintain it. SHEQ is not like a project with a start and end date, your job is constant.

5)   Why is it important to get more women in to engineering?

Looking at the many trailblazing women throughout history, it proves that we’re just as capable as our male counterparts. So in essence, the traditionally male dominated fields of engineering and maritime are losing out on the brainpower of half of the population.   

6)   What would you say to a school age girl thinking about joining engineering? How would you sell it?

It is really cool to be able to have a direct input into improving lives.  

7)   What advice do you have for students just starting out?

The work environment is one of constant learning, but on a different level to what you learn in a tertiary institution. However, these lessons will come to you in all forms, whether though success or failures. What will set you apart is recognising that the lesson is what you take away from it. Experience, your own and of others, is a very good teacher.

For more information on International Women in Engineering Day please visit