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Rodriek Mushwana – Learning to lead

By Ntsako Khosa

“Ultimately I want to run the biggest black-owned HVAC contracting firm.”

Rodriek N Mushwana is the managing director of MSB Engineering. He summarises his responsibilities nicely, stating that he heads projects (owing to the company size) and makes sure projects are done properly as per engineering requirements.

Getting started

“During the school holidays I used to work with a refrigeration technician at my father’s employment,” he recalls. Interestingly enough, it was through reading RACA Journal in the mid-90s that his interest in cooling and heating was sparked. “In January 1996 I wrote a letter to the president of SAIRAC asking for more information on how one can get involved in the air-conditioning industry. Little did I know that my letter was tabled at a SAIRAC meeting and the late Richard Pearce of Richard Pearce and Partners (RPP) offered to give me a chance.”

By April of the same year, he was employed as a junior computer aided design (CAD) operator. “Three months later I was promoted to a CAD operator. I went through the ranks to a position of design technician by 2004. I wouldn’t have done all this if it wasn’t for the leadership of Graeme Page. All my years at RPP he was my mentor, his leadership has placed me where I am now.”

Page then recruited him to WSP where Page was now an office director. “I worked under him for years doing a lot of projects locally and regionally,” he says. After Steven Barrett joined WSP as a senior engineer, Mushwana further increased his industry knowledge. “These three men contributed a lot to where I am and I owe it to them, not ignoring the rest of the people I worked with in the industry like Lindy Lund, George Arnold, Jacob Muabelo, Vivian Shabangu, Jan Nieuwenhuizen, Sabastian Chakezha and many more.”

For the love of the job

In 2015 Mushwana  decided to move into HVAC contracting. “When I started MSB Engineering, I didn’t even know who was going to give me the first project, it was a leap of faith on my side. Five years later I’m still here on pursuit to be the preferred HVAC contractor by reputable consulting firms and developers.”

He received his N6 in air-conditioning and refrigeration from the old Johannesburg Technical College. He has attended and completed seven SAIRAC accredited training programmes and a certificate in hospital planning from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). “I am a member of SARAIC, the South African Federation of Hospital Engineering (SAFHE) and a SARACCA approved practitioner to issue air-conditioning certificates of compliance (COC).”

He finds that what he does is enjoyable, and shares that in contracting you deal with implementation and not designs. “The most enjoyable part of my work is commissioning when the supplier gives a thump up of what we did, seeing what I started being completed, motivates me even more.”

Future plans

“The future looks good, even though the industry is getting flooded with contractors. Ultimately, I want to run the biggest black-owned HVAC contracting firm,” he says. 

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