Young chemical engineer Nokubonga Ngqulunga is one of many whose horizons have broadened thanks to oil company Engen.
Engen manages the Engen Refinery (Enref) which is located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Enref is South Africa’s second largest refinery.
Ngqulunga’s advice to the country’s youth is for them to ‘own’ their education: “We grow and learn by the amount that we involve ourselves in, and invest in, the process. Hard work is a prerequisite to unlocking success.”
Ngqulunga grew up in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal and matriculated from Estcourt High School. She then moved to Gauteng to study at the University of Johannesburg where she graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in Chemical Engineering degree.
As a middle child with two sisters, Ngqulunga was raised by her mother – a single parent – who understood the value of education.
“My mom made sure that all of us attended school and did well academically. From a young age I looked up to and admired my mom - she truly is a superwoman.”
This focus on education and a desire to excel led her to the Engen Maths and Science School at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard Campus from grade 10.
“I had my first stepping stone when I was afforded the opportunity to attend Engen’s extra classes in maths as well as science. I attended supplementary classes every Saturday for three years until I matriculated. The classes really assisted with exam preparation and work progress.”
After high school, Ngqulunga was awarded a full bursary from Engen to study at university level.
“Education was always a priority in our household and I think that is why I have never stopped pursuing my studies. I want to attain a Bachelor of Engineering Honours qualification next and gain as much work experience in different areas of business as possible,” she reflects.
As of May this year, Ngqulunga is a proud Engen graduate trainee and works at the Engen Lubricants Blending Plant in Durban.
“It has only been a month but I have already learnt so much and I’m looking forward to gaining more experience,” she enthuses.
Ngqulunga believes that anything and everything is possible if you put in the hard work and believe in yourself. Having a mentor, who is aligned with your life goal is also a good idea as it helps to ensure that your dreams are realistic and achievable.
“I motivate myself by always trying to remember the bigger picture and what I want to achieve. It may sound like a cliché but there is nothing more powerful than setting realistic goals and being passionate enough to achieve it,” she adds.
By continuing to attract and grow minds and talents like Ngqulunga and to shape the careers of talented graduates, Engen continues on its path to shape the future for the better.
Helping young gifted South Africans explore new horizons proves once again that as a company, Engen is committed to building tomorrow’s leaders.