Young, buoyant and raising the stakes
At the helm of Tulipamwe Consulting Engineers; the newest engineering consulting firm, is Oshoveli Hiveluah; a young, dynamic engineering professional driven by a fierce entrepreneurial spirit.
Tulipamwe an Oshiwambo word for ‘we are together’, briefly encapsulates a sense of teamwork and belonging to all those who join the engineering firm. It is also meant to add a sense of “Namibian-ness”.
Tulipamwe is set to take and give engineering consultancy a new character, given a predominant situation where most engineering firms have their roots in either South Africa or the UK. They are only five months old but seem to have done their home work thoroughly as projects are already rolling in, keeping them on their toes.
While Oshoveli may be new on the business front of things, he has been in the engineering field for a long time, having started at the Ministry of Works & Transport in 2002 and later with the Windhoek Consulting Engineers where he stayed for nine solid years.
Coincidentally, he joined the former after being seconded to work on the Northern Railway Extension Project. This is because he wanted to learn and get involved in this project.
“Projects of this scope and nature only occur once in a lifetime if one is fortunate,” he argues.
However, he is grateful for the experience he gained at Windhoek Consulting Engineers, which made him the well-rounded engineer he is today.
Young as it may be, the firm comprises of 12 personnel with Oshoveli Hiveluah and Lindsay Kriel as the directors. In addition, their personnel comprise of four registered civil engineers, six registered civil technicians, two technical assistants and two supporting staff members.
That the firm has attracted the crème de la crème of the local engineering world is an early sign of great things lying ahead for the firm and Namibia at large to which Oshoveli attributes their fairly straight-forward approach.
This, he says, is based on the strategic intent to attract older and more experienced personnel; those who have the necessary knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure mentorship and knowledge transfer as well as young engineering professionals with the drive, vision and the eagerness to learn. It is also to ensure continuity in the firm and to have a succession plan.
For Oshoveli, the thrust of this business pivots around meeting the needs and expectations of clients timeously, consequently creating a deep happiness and satisfaction.
Oshoveli would like to see his firm punching above its weight to become the leading consulting engineering firm in Namibia that delivers reputable and consulting engineering while meeting the prescribed standards.
He also wishes that Tulipamwe will not only provide opportunities for the previously disadvantaged Namibians in quality engineering but will also rise against all odds with little input from foreign-based firms and the necessary capacity and expertise to tackle any engineering project or problem.
The young engineering professional believes he has always been goal-driven and this has rubbed off in his business and profession pretty well.
“I believe it is important to set goals and aim to achieve them. If you do not set goals, that basically means that you do not have a benchmark to measure yourself against. Therefore, if you do not have benchmarks to evaluate yourself against, how would you determine whether your venture is a success or not?” He asks.
The firm is bent towards upholding engineering in Namibia, ensuring that it is internationally applauded and modeled from the South African standards.
“Having had the privilege of being taught and working with some of the best engineers (in my opinion) in the industry, it is of prime importance that I ensure that high standards are maintained and even improved,” he asserts.
The firm’s scope of services usually entails design, contract documentation and administration as well as site supervision of capital infrastructure projects.
To increase the company’s top line revenues as a newly established firm, it has been actively marketing itself to various clients in Government and the private sector. In addition, it has been tendering actively to secure work and assist its clients with various aspects of their duties where they do not possess the necessary expertise.
Despite being a newly established firm, its personnel has done some big projects; numerous in the field of transport engineering projects and civil/structural engineering projects.
Business issues aside, developmentally, according to Oshoveli, the value of engineering while is, it is often misconstrued and misunderstood, and that cannot be overemphasised.
“Engineering plays a big role in the development of Namibians, especially in meeting Namibia’s Vision 2030. It is a foregone conclusion that in order to meet the targets of the Vision, the following is required: Infrastructure - roads, railways, harbours, bridges, dams, buildings, services (water, sewer and electricity).
“In order to implement the above-mentioned infrastructure needs, engineers are required. As a result, in realising the targets, engineering has a pivotal role to play,” he explains.
Oshoveli is oblivious of the fact that a company or the firm becomes a success as a result of the employees.
It is therefore, of prime importance to ensure that the management has an open-door policy for their employees so that they are easily approachable (in regard to professional concerns) by their employees.
“I concur that appropriate systems need to be in place to enable the employer to understand employee-related matters,” he states.
A diverse workforce in the engineering field is a valuable asset as experience has taught Oshoveli how clients respond to various individuals. The important aspect is being able to meet their needs as well as assisting them in whichever way one can as a consultant.
While the landscape is littered with many failed consulting firms, Tulipamwe is spurred by its experience, technical knowledge, expertise and capacity. It vows to adhere to strict business acumen and become a good case example.
“In everything, however, it is important to bear in mind that we are not in control of it all. All rests in the hands of God. Therefore, all one can do is to pray and hope for the best,” says Oshoveli humbly.
In planning complex projects, the firm is guided by certain requirements known as ‘terms of reference’. The ‘terms of reference’ outline what needs to be done; the tools required in executing the work; the projects’ time-frame and the personnel required in regard to their respective qualifications.
“Once a full understanding of the scope and magnitude of the work is determined, we then assign personnel for each particular activity together with the associated cost,” he points out.
Oshoveli uses typical management tools such as Microsoft Project (for the programming and scheduling of the work) and Microsoft Excel (costing platform).
He says that a heavy workload usually occurs at the start of the projects. The preliminary stages generally require one to dedicate a lot of time. Given the generally short time-frames they work in, one is often expected, within a short time-frame, to prepare a preliminary design (if stipulated); a detailed design; tender drawings; a schedule of quantities; tender documentation and pre-tender meeting minutes.
In engineering consultancy, deadlines are usually very tight, however, with proper planning, these challenges can be overcome through careful planning and delegation of the activities to the respective site staff.
For Oshoveli, the most important reward(s) in his business is having the assurance that a client and the end user (the public) are both satisfied with the final product. In addition, it gives him a sense of satisfaction to know that he has delivered what he promised and he does not leave the project until the initial objectives have been met.
Dismissing the perception that engineers cannot be good business people, he says from experience, he has found that people in general have strengths and weaknesses and what matters the most is to marry strengths and weaknesses of the various individuals on the team to obtain the best combination of efforts.
To be successful in this business, Oshoveli says, one has to have technical knowledge (in their field); interpersonal skills; marketing skills - honesty, integrity and deliverance (deliver what you have promised).
While most people generally cave in stressful situations, Oshoveli generally thrives under pressure, “It is amazing how much one can achieve whilst under pressure.” On motivation, Oshoveli always tries to take each day in its stride and tries to maximise his days fully.
As a professional, he finds it important to stay abreast of the developments in one’s field as in the engineering field; the lessons are many and one never stops learning. Reading of publications and relevant codes of practice as well attending courses are valuable ways to increase one’s technical knowledge too. PF