Hema Vallabh

Process engineer: Sasol

Chemical engineer Hema Vallabh literally bubbles with passion, enthusiasm and an energetic desire to make a difference. Over and above her full-time post at Sasol, Vallabh has created a clever way to combine her two defining passions � engineering and giving back � by directing GirlEng. An offshoot of the non-profit organisation SAWomEng, GirlEng was founded in 2009 as a grassroots initiative aimed at encouraging high- potential female maths and science students to pursue a career in engineering � a traditionally male- dominated industry that is often glossed over or simply not discovered by girls. Vallabh, who went to school in Lenasia, stumbled into the profession and her passion by chance. That is why, in addition to her belief that women can add an invaluable dimension to the industry, she's determined to ensure that schoolgirls have the right information to enable them to make an informed decision. Because knowledge is power, GirlEng facilitates workshops around the country in an effort to educate girls in grades 10 to 12 about the opportunities afforded by engineering. University engineering students are enlisted and developed as mentors to provide support and real-life examples to high- potential students. Vallabh, who has received hugely positive feedback on the impact of her work, has not only been invited as a motivational speaker to events that empower young women and encourage students to reach their goals, but also won an outstanding achievement award from UCT for her work at GirlEng � all this before she has even turned 30. Her hope for the future is to engineer a post that allows her to pursue her two passions on a full-time and permanent basis. � Lu Larche

Website: girleng.sawomeng.org.za Twitter: @HemsVallabh