Worley’s ESD initiative a testimony to positive transformation

Launched in 2013, the WorleyParsons Enterprise Supplier Development (now Worley Enterprise Supplier Development) initiative supports meaningful transformation of the southern Africa economy by providing tangible opportunities for small businesses to prosper and expand. As the initiative matures, the list of successful partnerships continues to grow, highlighting the critical role businesses play in driving inclusivity and sustainability within the environments in which they operate.

Gladwin Mfolo, Worley Senior Project Manager, says that in South Africa, transformation is often driven by compliance considerations rather than being viewed as a catalyst to address the country’s socio-economic challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty.

“There are hundreds of development incubators in South Africa but not all have social development programmes aligned with the company’s business strategy,” says Mfolo.

He believes that a corporate transformation strategy is fundamental to any social development programme, not only to maintain an organisation’s relevance in a changing economic and business environment, but also to ensure benefit to all.

“The Worley ESD initiative is one of the corporate social responsibility programmes in South Africa with real success stories that attest to how positive transformation can happen,” says Mfolo, citing Gridbow Engineering and Technical Services as one such example.

This award-winning electrical engineering company specialises in energy audits, generator installations, and UPS services, and is now an alumni partner company in the Worley ESD programme. Enterprise alumni partners are companies that have graduated from the Worley ESD programme and continue to work closely with Worley in pursuing work and executing projects.

“Gridbow’s entrepreneurial journey with Worley has been an amazing success story, and the company has grown to over 60 permanent employees and has expanded its business operations as far as sub-Saharan Africa and Australia,” says Mfolo.

COO of Gridbow, Farai EJ Chabata, reflects on being an ESD partner: “The journey as an entrepreneur is long and a helping hand is one of the key things. The helping hand that the Worley (then TWP) programme gave us was priceless. The world-class office space and open working environment set us up for success. All we had to do was look for work and execute the projects.”

Mfolo cites iX engineers as a further example. Established in 2016, iX engineers are a Worley ESD extended partner company offering professional consulting engineering services. ESD extended partners are companies already established in their own right, and who are able to partner with Worley to execute major projects.

iX engineers have worked nationally as well as across most continents and are well versed in international best practices, routinely applying state-of-the-art technology and systems to support a more efficient project process.

“These two companies are now at the point where they are able to fulfil their own socio-economic obligations and can operate independently. The wheel has come full circle and their success is testament to our ESD programme working the way it was intended,” comments Mfolo.

With the Worley ESD initiative now fully into its implementation phase, Mfolo is not short of other success stories.


Gladwin Mfolo

ST Nubian Architects, an extended ESD partner, is currently engaged with the design and layout of a simulated underground mining environment for the University of Johannesburg, following successfully tendering for the project with mining engineering assistance from Worley.

Worley is also taking a lead role in the design and layout of the simulated mine and has, through its global engineering expertise, assisted ST Nubian Architects to tap into new markets.

Mfolo adds that while design projects such as these are not usually undertaken by Worley, the project nevertheless fits well with their ESD initiative by supporting an educational institution that may in turn potentially provide valuable human resources to Worley.

A Worley ESD core partner company, UNN Surveys specialises in land development, land management and engineering consulting, offering comprehensive solutions in the infrastructure and development sectors.

Mfolo says that this 100% black women-owned enterprise is in discussions with an international land surveying company about collaborating on future projects. “This will be beneficial to both parties as UNN Surveys can access global expertise and resources while simultaneously assisting an overseas organisation to gain entrance to the local market.”

NBi Quantity Surveyors is a black-owned cost engineering consultancy firm offering quantity surveying services with a specific focus on the mining environment. As an extended partner within the ESD programme, NBi is currently providing quantity surveying services to the De Beers Venetia Underground Project, one of Worley’ flagship projects. Mfolo comments that the NBi resources seconded to the project are executing work well with Worley resources in delivering this project for De Beers.

At present, Worley has 12 enterprise supplier development partners in its ESD programme. These range from ESD core partner companies to ESD extended partner companies and ESD alumni partner companies. The programme assists the ESD partner companies with capability and capacity building, with special focus on value-added activities within the South African industry through service-related functions.

“Our intention is to jointly deliver services in the hydrocarbons, mineral, metals, chemicals, power and infrastructure sectors with our ESD partners and we believe that the engineering sector and its associated infrastructure in South Africa has much to gain from this initiative. As the programme continues to mature, we expect to see more and more joint delivery of services while exposing our ESD partner companies to world-class delivery systems and transferring skills and capabilities to help these companies and the industry as a whole grow,” concludes Mfolo.

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