Tarryn is living her dream
Cape Town - Working with equipment as small as a hacksaw and as big as a digger loader is second nature for Tarryn du Plessis.
Du Plessis, from Rocklands, is a construction supervisor who specialises in waterworks for Nejeni Construction and Project Management, a civil engineering contractor based in Blackheath.
Her duties on-site include: making sure of the smooth running on-site, ordering of materials and seeing that quality and production are up to company standards.
Du Plessis, who has her diploma in building and civil engineering, said she has always been intrigued with the building and civil industry.
“The fact that you start from nothing, then able to see your end product in front of you and many years down the line be able to show your kids is amazing. What I love most about my job is that no two days are the same.I learn and sponge every single day, and also I get to boss men around all day. What woman wouldn’t like that? Without communication I don’t think any industry will function. It is very important to efficiently get a job done,” said Du Plessis.
“It was something I always knew I wanted to do. Worked at a few construction companies, but it wasn’t until I got to Nejeni about four years ago that I was given an opportunity in their internship programme, and with their training, I was able to climb in the first year of being here.
“What I’ve learnt about the industry is that if you do your job right, it’ll go smoother than what you think. Also, stay humble and don’t get comfortable, a construction site has the ability to turn your world upside down in a matter of seconds. Getting your face and hands dirty is something you need to learn to deal with, it’s inevitable,” she said.
A typical day for the Du Plessis would be to get all safety paperwork out of the way, start with daily tasks, whether it be laying pipes, testing pipes or doing road reinstatement and then make sure the site is safe and clear for overnight.
“Safety precautions I take on-site is that I always keep my team informed and I see that they follow all site safety as we get audited internally on a daily basis. Tools and equipment I need to get the job done ranges from something as big as a digger loader to something as small as a hacksaw.
“It’s very important to check those tools and equipment before starting a job. If anything is not in place, it can cause major delays and set you back on targets. The way I deal with mistakes on the job is that I try to see what went wrong and how it can be fixed or improved, but also in this industry, mistakes are how you learn quickest,” she said.
Her message to females, who are considering the construction industry is “in the beginning, all eyes are on you and you get tested more than the rest, but learn from everyone around you, and make it your own. Form your own identity and stand firm”.
When not busy on-site, Du Plessis enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family.
“I like hiking. Also pushing the threshold on my fears and chasing adrenaline, like paragliding and shark-cage diving. What keeps me motivated is that I represent women in an industry that men created. If I don’t succeed, no other woman would want to enter this field. I am a strong, independent woman, and I love to see everyone around me win,” she added.
Her sister, Lee-Ann Roman, said Du Plessis has her life and plans for the future all mapped out.
“I burst with pride talking about my baby sister. Coming from the Cape Flats, growing up, we were not privileged, but our parents never made it our problem. They provided and did it well. Tarryn chose her career path early on in life, and mother and father made it happen, and she pushed through with full steam. She is stubborn at times, but definitely not unreasonable. She sees life differently, is very open minded and a very matured young lady,” she said.
Operations manager at Nejeni Construction and Project Management, Pieter Ackerman described Du Plessis as a talented go-getter.
“Tarryn is straight to the point with a dash of sarcasm and she does not let anything intimidate her. From the ‘greeny’ that started, she has grown in leaps and bounds. Taken all the opportunities that came her way and grew into a self-sufficient construction manager.
“Tarryn has set the standard when it comes to pipe-laying projects and proven that a woman can survive and excel in predominantly male industry. With age comes experience, and she will keep on improving daily as long as she remains true and doesn’t become complacent,” he said.