Inspiration Session: Nyami Mandindi – one of the first black female quantity surveyors in SA

Nyami Mandindi is a dynamic leader within the build environment having started her career as one of the first black female quantity surveyors in South Africa. She founded a quantity surveying (QS) business in the 1990’s which was ranked as a top 5 QS business in South Africa and recently stepped down as CEO Southern & Eastern Africa for consulting engineering firm, Royal HaskoningDHV. Nyami has worked on the OR Tambo Airport, Tsogo Sun Hotels and the Santon Convention Centre, but gets most joy when infrastructure impacts and enhances the lives of communities and citizens.  When the first Bus Rapid Transport System launched in Johannesburg, a mother in Soweto commented that for the ‘first time she would be able to cook dinner for her children’ which for Nyami meant she was doing something of value.

Nyami was a recent speaker at our Inspiration Session and shared some wise insights for young professionals who are charting their careers:

Defining Vision

To make a success of your career, you need to have vision and set goals. Nyami started her presentation with a video of her hike up Kilimanjaro which was about having a goal and focusing on the summit. She also repeated a few times that ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’ but her message was to do great things for yourself, for your country and the next generation.


Do what is required to succeed. Get the qualification, put in the hard work and time and don’t let people pigeonhole you. In her advice for women in male-dominated environments, she said ‘be good at what you do’ and let them recognise your value. She also gave great advice about women being firm and assertive, but not trying to be a man.


Polepole is a Swahili word for ‘slowly’ which was an often used on the Kilimanjaro hike. Her advice to young people is to take small steps consistently and not wanting to rush from 0 – 100 without putting in the time. Like the body adjusting to altitude on Kilimanjaro, we need to develop emotionally and become wiser which takes time, so don’t rush the process.


Teamwork and networks are also important in helping you grow in your career. Finding diverse and supportive people, provides support and opportunities as you and your business ideas grow.

Dare to Dream

Dream big and never lose the dream that is within you.

Have Fun

While work can be satisfying and a strong focus, don’t neglect your family and your relationships. At the end of the day, what are your achievements if you don’t have family and friends around you to celebrate with.

Nyami is currently working on two books during a sabbatical as she evaluates her next steps. See photos from this Inspiration Session with Nyami Mandindi

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