AR Controls of Vanderbijlpark has several women in key technical positions at the valve and actuator technology manufacturer and supplier. It is very supportive, and does not discriminate. It challenges its employees constantly to learn new skills, as well as providing the tools and funding to make skills development possible.
Mechanical Engineer Suné Huyser comments that AR Controls has always supported her personally as a female engineer by providing formal and informal training, and procuring the best and latest software to enable her to do her job better and more efficiently. “I get regular on-site exposure to see our products in action,” she highlights.
It is critical that women in the valve and control industry be provided with such training and exposure, “especially the type where you can see the physical thing, get your hands dirty, and take things apart. If training can be provided before entry into the workforce, it will draw even more women by sparking their interest. It really is an exciting and appealing industry to work in,” Huyser highlights.
Internal Sales Engineer Anneke Muller is currently studying towards a B-Tech in Mechanical Engineering, with the intention of embarking on a Master’s degree afterwards. “I love every moment of my role in internal sales. It really helps to have the technical background to be able to deliver the correct valves for specific client applications.”
Muller stresses that AR Controls is very supportive of women in engineering roles. “It makes it so much easier to be yourself, without the necessity of having to prove yourself all of the time. This affords me the opportunity to perform at what I do best,” Muller explains. “The reason I studied mechanical engineering is because of the idea of making something out of nothing, and the way that two different components can work together, and at the end of the day make our lives easier.”
Huyser elaborates that not only has she always had a love for maths and science, she excelled at these subjects as well. “The job security and high income potential associated with an engineering degree also appealed to me greatly.” She even met her current fiancé in class in 2012, and the two had their graduation picture taken together.
The ratio of women to men studying mechanical subjects at North-West University during her tenure there was about 5:100, Huyser reveals. The gender gap is generally much smaller in other engineering disciplines. Huyser adds that she was never discriminated against or discouraged, and was treated equally during her studies. “My family has been amazingly supportive. My father made it all possible, and never doubted me.”
Muller recalls that, while she always aspired to be a Civil Engineer, she registered ultimately for mechanical engineering at the Vaal University of Technology. “I have not regretted it for one moment. I really enjoyed the classes, especially material strengths and mechanics.” She points to the support of her family as being key to her pursuing her ambition.
Huyser reveals that she has been working at AR Controls for four years now. “I had an initial opportunity to assist with testing a new mill design, and obtain my Master’s degree simultaneously. However, I was still open to explore more options.”
She went for an interview at AR Controls, and was duly impressed by the facility, and the passion and drive demonstrated by shareholders such as Director Julien van Niekerk. “When they offered me the job, it did not take very long to make up my mind. I have never regretted my decision. I enjoy working here very much.”
Muller stresses that engineering always presents different problems to be solved. “It keeps it interesting.” Her message to women contemplating a similar career is simple: “Go for it. You will love it. You get your ups and downs like any job, but most women are stronger than they think.”
Huyser concludes: “At a fundamental level, I will always be most passionate and motivated when I feel like I am contributing something of value, and making a difference. At AR Controls, I never have the same day twice. There is always a new challenge that arises. I am also in constant company with the most amazing team of young professionals, and we have fun working together.”
About AR Controls
AR Controls is a leading manufacturer and importer of a comprehensive range of internationally-recognised valves and instrumentation designed to isolate and control the flow of erosive and corrosive media in niche markets across Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.
As the exclusive importer of DeZURIK valves in Africa, AR Controls commands more than 80% market share in niche mineral-processing projects across the continent, while the company’s in-house manufactured and branded ARVALV range continues to gain considerable ground in the international export market. As a result of this continued and measurable success, AR Controls boasts an unrivalled on-site stockholding at its under-roof assembly and stockholding facility. This product line includes: knife gate valves, butterfly valves, double offset Valves, triple offset valves, ball valves, check valves, plug valves, air valves, control valves, and actuators.