“Women are just as capable and as equally competitive in this male dominated industry”

Image: Andre van der Merwe
Image: Andre van der Merwe

How was it growing up?

“I grew up in a small family of four, where I was the younger of two children. My mother would always say, ‘Work hard, dream big and acquire your own things!’ I never understood that as a child, but growing up it was always a constant reminder that would play at the back of my mind.”- Lerato

“I grew up in a household of five children – four boys and myself – so my mother and I were always outnumbered in everything. I grew up in a household full of boys, so I also adopted their thinking and ‘boyish’ tendencies. I was definitely not your typical girl child who played with Barbie dolls. Our parents were no different from others, they wanted the best for us even though financially it was not always possible. But the values and principles they taught us outweigh any financial contribution.” –Lusanda.

What drove you to take on the engineering and construction field?

“I always joke about this and say; I’m not sure if I chose engineering, or if engineering chose me. I had always considered myself as a creative growing up, and as a result, I had initially considered a career in fashion design. I started developing other interests in grade 11 and my thought patterns took a complete 360-degree turn. I started developing an interest in engineering, and until this day I am grateful for my parent’s guidance.  I would not trade these past 10 years for anything.” –Lerato.

“I guess having been ‘different’ from junior school right through matric, I wanted to take an uncommon career path to my peers at the time. Most of them were going for the likes of B.Com Accounting (which I was also accepted for), but after consulting with my father, he pushed me towards the engineering field, and well, I guess it fits perfectly with my ambition of being different.” –Lusanda.

How did you two meet?

“We met during our first year at the University of Johannesburg. I remember the day we met quite vividly. It was the first time I was taking the university bus to campus so I was not quite sure if I was at the correct bus stop. I remember seeing this lovely looking girl with a welcoming face standing at the same bus stop. I asked her if this was the correct spot, and she answered me so politely and made me feel comfortable. At that moment, we were both not aware that we would be attending the same class that morning, and subsequently studying towards the same qualification. As time went by, we soon realised we had the same ambitions and goals in life, and the rest is history.” - Lerato

How did Tisang Group come about?

“Towards the final years of varsity, we were both so convicted about starting our own business one day, but we never knew it would actually be the same company. Also, I think having gone through the challenges of corporate together and conquering them day by day, was a rubber stamp confirmation that we did have what it takes to start and run our own business. As early as 2013, we were both seriously considering jumping ship, and talks were now centred on our own business, so we began our research and studying market trends. It was in 2015 that we conquered the fear of the unknown, took the leap of faith and registered Tisang Group. I cannot begin to tell you the sense of achievement we both felt when we received our company registration documents.” - Lusanda

What is the focus of the company?

“In the past year, we have had to refocus, redesign, and reposition our business, also narrowing down our service offering. We aligned the business around three strategic themes, which are Industry specialisation, market focus, and sustainable partnerships.  We now focus on a number of civil engineering and building services that are unique to our clients. The net effect of our strategy turnaround was a growing order book, solid partnerships, and enhanced reputation.” - Lusanda  

What were the challenges?

“Our first year of business was quite tough, to say the least. We were very naïve in the sense that we understood engineering and the construction sector quite well, however, we soon realized that working and excelling in corporate is very different from running your own business. Our efforts to win contracts were fruitless because, at the time, we were still trying to do things on our own, not realizing that clients wanted a company track record, which we did not have. In our second year, we realized the power of collaboration and it is here that we aligned ourselves with strategic partners in the form of various types of partnerships and started gaining momentum.” - Lerato

What have been the highlights?

“One of our highlights was when we were given an opportunity by being accepted into an Enterprise Development programme by a listed company. This definitely gave us reassurance that we had something to offer and value to add, not only to our one client at the time but to the industry as a whole. Our other highlight was when we landed a number of projects within the power and renewable energy space.” - Lerato

What are you hoping to achieve?

“As we continue to grow Tisang Group, we hope to make a mark such that we reinforce that women are just as capable and as equally competitive in this male dominated industry, breaking all stereotypes. We hope that in the process, we will continue to inspire young girls and other women to believe in themselves. Lastly, we hope to continue being part of the value chain that contributes to new and innovative power generation in South Africa, creating jobs and making a difference in people’s lives.” - Lusanda

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