The University of Pretoria’s industrial engineering graduates thrive in industry

Posted on June 22, 2024

Stefan Enslin is an IT Delivery Manager at BMW South Africa’s IT Hub. He graduated with a degree in industrial engineering cum laude from the University of Pretoria (UP) in 2015. He believes that a degree in industrial engineering from UP’s Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology provides a wide range of career options.

“The programme gives one a wide theoretical and practical foundation that equips one to work in any discipline in which there are processes that can be improved upon: from law to manufacturing, banking or mining.” Stefan found his place in the automotive industry after completing his compulsory six-week vacation work programme with BMW South Africa, and conducting his final-year industry project on a problem that he identified in the company. He also obtained a bursary from the company to complete the last two years of his studies.

The Department’s final-year project is a compulsory element of the undergraduate degree in which students are required to complete an engineering project in which they apply fundamental industrial engineering knowledge and skills. It forms an essential part of the training and industry exposure of industrial engineering students. Stefan’s project entailed the optimisation of paint-batch sequencing in the automotive industry.

Stefan started working at the BMW Group upon graduation. After completing the company’s graduate programme, he progressed along the career ladder from data analyst, business intelligence specialist and innovation specialist at the company’s manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria. In 2020, he moved to the BMW ZA IT Hub in Menlyn Maine. His first role was that of transition manager. Here, he spearheaded the recruitment and establishment of a scaled Agile team of 25 AWS data engineers to support the BMW Group. In 2022, he was promoted to IT Delivery Manager, where he oversees a department of more than 60 IT professionals, who form part of six software development teams.

According to Stefan, driving innovation and change in an organisation is his professional passion, and has been central to his career at BMW South Africa. “The keys to my success are understanding technology change management in a large multinational organisation, as well as my strategic and futuristic strengths, and leadership qualities.” He is fascinated by the qualities that make each individual unique. This assists him in setting up effective work teams. He believes that his UP degree laid the perfect foundation for him to further his skill set in innovation and IT strategy, leadership, and project and change management. 

Stefan says that he has truly found his niche with this company. He is glad that he had the opportunity to work in industry upon graduation. He enjoys the opportunity to mentor the people reporting to him to build the culture and strategy of the organisation. The company has vast opportunities for career growth, as well as opportunities to work internationally.

Stefan is enthusiastic in his recommendation of industrial engineering as a study choice for prospective students, particularly the programme offered at UP. “Industrial engineering is a great choice as it is so diverse.” He cautions school-leavers that they may very well only realise what it is that they want to do with their lives when they enter industry, so it is important to be equipped with skills that allow one to be flexible and that can be applied in any industry. “Industrial engineering gives one more options to discover where one’s true talent lies.”

He emphasises the importance of the cultural fit of an individual within an organisation. “Good marks are important while you are studying, and open the door for you to enter the world of work. However, when you start working, the most important attribute is emotional intelligence, and the possession of a professional work ethic.”

- Author Janine Smith

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