Patrick Gwitirwa: Greening strategies for future

Patrick Gwitirwa: Greening strategies for future

Compiled by Benjamin Brits

Born in the eastern part of Zimbabwe, Gwitirwa’s journey in development led him to South Africa where he found his home at VMG Consulting Engineers.

May 2021 personality profile sponsored by:

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Remembering his childhood origins, Gwitirwa recalls the idyllic village lifestyle where he spent his early years. His father would visit the village a couple of times a year where his endless hope grew that he too would one day join his father “in the big city”.

On turning seven, he moved to Harare - ‘the big city’ at the time, to begin his education which was not a time he particularly enjoyed. However, his keen mind persisted to carry him through his challenges in growing up.

“I was proportionately one of the smallest boys in class, but I would often find solace in beating the bigger boys when it came to end of school term marks, receiving many awards for academic excellence,” he says.

Gwitirwa’s high school years were spent at two Anglican schools – St Marys’ in Harare and St Augustines’ in Penhalonga, whereafter, in his pioneering years he gained a strong interest in building services through the Zimbabwe Ministry of Local Government and Public Works where he was offered a post-diploma mechanical engineering technician position with the mandate to undertake rural and urban development.

The need to further pursue his professional development coupled with the economic challenges at the time led Gwitirwa to South Africa, that comparatively had a more active and advanced building services industry.

Acculturation challenges pushed Gwitirwa to adopt a reset in his career. Part of that meant settling for a mechanical HVAC CAD positions in order to build from the bottom up.

“Administrative barriers initially threw a couple of curve balls my way, but through VMG’s support in my professional development, these were overcome. I would often tag along with my mentor, Nigel Pengelly, to planning and design meetings where the experience gained was immeasurable and gave me a good grounding in building services,” he says.

Membership to industry bodies such as SAIRAC have been eye-opening and their coursework has contributed immensely to Gwitirwa’s design skill, while opportunities to partake in factory visits to China, Malaysia and South Korea broadened his interest in HVAC and overall building services.

Outside of work Gwitirwa enjoys following motorsports. “Being mechanically inclined, the sound of machines, fluids and engines purring out tons of horsepower naturally has a strong appeal,” he adds.

Considering his career achievements to-date, Gwitirwa notes that working on certain projects it became apparent that merely providing a ‘comfortable’ living/working space was not enough. One particular project he holds great pride in was the work undertaken at the Holocaust Study Centre in Johannesburg.

“Ticking all the boxes of the client brief was one of my proudest moments and I would say most significant achievement to date”,  he states.

Looking to the future, Gwitirwa points out that it is becoming alarmingly clear that for future generations to have a harmonious living environment, adopting of greening strategies is essential. Having been grounded to a sedentary village lifestyle in his early childhood enables him to be an early-adopter of green energy solutions.

“I have recently contributed to a specification update for a blue chip corporate chain that is on a good-footing in terms of adopting sustainable technology. Not only does it benefit the environment but guarantees a harmonious future for generations to come. I would also further like to see improved green technology buy-in from property developers. ‘Value’ must be looked at in terms of how much an item or a system improves our well-being AND that of the environment,” he concludes.

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