Monday, May 28, 2007

Mary Nabunobuno Vuniwaqa's Profile

My name is Mary Nabunobuno. Koro:Vatukarasa, Taivugalei, Tailevu. Koro ni Vasu: Saleaula, Savai’i, Samoa. I was born to my parents, Eminoni and Upumoni Ranacou in 1979. I am the 4th of 5 children, one brother and 3 sisters. I am married to Joe Chang-Vuniwaqa and we currently reside in Hillsborough, Auckland.

2. What schools did you attend? (If you can include primary, secondary and tertiary)

My schooling started at Nausori Primary and Veiuto Primary and we moved back to NZ in 1987 (before the 1st coup). Then I continued at Kedgley Intermediate, then Auckland Girls Grammar School. At tertiary level I studied at both Manukau Institute of Technology and UNITEC.

3. What is your job title, and why did you choose that particular field?

I am a Project Engineer and I work for a civil/structural construction company called Fulton Hogan Ltd. My job involves managing time, money and resources to build infrastructure, whether it be motorways, bridges, water reticulation etc. The main aim is too make a profit for the company at the end of each project and as equally important to keep our people safe by preventing accidents.
After 7th form, I wasn’t certain of what I wanted to do and in fact didn’t know much about civil engineering or construction. I initially chose to study civil engineering because my strengths at secondary school were math and the sciences, particularly physics. I immediately became interested in the field that I was studying and now enjoy a very rewarding career in construction.

4. What subjects (secondary school to tertiary) are required to do the field of work that you do?

At secondary level math and physics are very important. General science and technical drawing will help and like most jobs basic computer training. There are many tertiary qualifications available in this field which includes Bachelors, Diploma’s, and Certificates in civil/environmental engineering and construction management. A bachelor of engineering degree would probably be the most reliable qualification to have as it more widely recognized (internationally) next to work experience.

5. What is your view as being a woman doing this work?

My line of work is very male dominated and admittedly does get tough, not necessarily physically but certainly mentally. Being female in this industry has its ups and downs. There are too many positive aspects of my job to name and the only negative thing I can think of just now is that wearing a hard hat all day messes up my hair!! But like any job, as long as you enjoy your work and feel that you are fulfilling a purpose then that is motivation enough to get the job done. Life is too short to be stuck in a job that you don’t enjoy!

6. What other opportunities are available in this line of work?

Other opportunities that are available in this line of work are basically anything that involves construction and civil/structural engineering. There are mainly two parts to engineering. There’s the design part which is where a project is conceptualized and designed to ensure that the structure, project etc actually works in real life i.e. will serve its function and withstand its environment over time. Then there’s the construction side (which is what I do) i.e. working on site and getting someone else’s design built.

7. What is a major highlight of your work that you would like to share?

The major highlight of my job is on completion of a project and watching it serve its purpose i.e. watching traffic driving and pedestrians walking over a bridge that I’ve helped build. Like all challenges in life, what keeps me going through the difficult parts, is to visualize the final result of what it is we are trying to achieve. For me, it’s visualizing of the opening ceremony of whatever it is that we are building at the time.

8. What are your plans for further studies? What opportunities are there for you?

I plan to get a BE(civil) degree which I have been putting off for a while now because of work! Other opportunities for me include consultancy to local authorities and the private sector etc and to design infrastructure.

9. Any advice you would like to give our youngsters who may be interested to follow your footsteps?

Get information on the industry and opportunities which exist both locally and internationally, whether it be through company websites, watching construction documentaries(I enjoy watching mega-structures on National Geographic) or through the universities and school careers centre’s. Also anyone who is interested in what I do can contact and me, I would be more than happy to take young hopefuls around my construction site. And last but not least, the old cliché “study hard!” Compared to the rest of your life, studying takes up a small fraction of your life – so we might as well give it 100%, get it over and done with and enjoy the lifelong benefits.