Ronny Mohlala

Researcher, Centre for Industrial and Scientific Research

Ronny Mohlala is a man who does not stand back when facing a challenge, even overcoming his family’s misgivings over his chosen career path.

They did not understand his interest in biocatalysis, the new scientific field that investigates the use of natural catalysts, such as enzymes, to chemically transform organic compounds, and wanted him to follow a more traditional career such as becoming a doctor.

It was actually a four-year degree in medical science that piqued this interest.

Getting through school on his granny’s pension, and completing his undergraduate studies on grants and merit bursaries, he showed what could be done by completing his final year with 10 distinctions, while also being active in university events and being named the best poet at the University of Limpopo.

His keen interest and ability to solve complex problems was recognised early on by teachers and lecturers, and led him to persevere.

Currently employed as a researcher at the Centre for Industrial and Scientific Research, he is working towards his master’s degree in biocatalysis in conjunction with the University of the Witwatersrand.

His advice to the youth is “Our backgrounds and circumstances might be responsible for who we are, but who we become depends upon ourselves,” quoting a saying someone close to him often uses.

He says you should never fail to plan because that means you are planning to fail. One of the biggest lies in life, he says, is that “at some stage in our lives we lose control of what is happening to us and our lives become controlled by fate,” quoting Paulo Coelho. Anyone who believes this will lose the inside track on his life path, Mohlala says. He also urges the youth to “never look down on anyone unless they are helping them up,” quoting Jesse Jackson.

Mohlala says he aims to become a professor in his field and publish his academic research and also motivational books. He is dreaming of one day having his own publishing company to invest in the future of the country’s use of biocatalysis. — Ilse Ferreira