Megapipes Solutions manufactures Weholite HDPE water management products at its new 20,000m2 factory site in Ruiru, Kiambu County.
Kenya is a water-scarce country and Megapipes has brought innovative and sustainable solutions aimed to help alleviate WASH issues and manage freshwater safely and efficiently for the foreseeable future.
It is this type of innovation that is making the company a favorable choice for women who have aspirations to work in the STEM field. STEM is the umbrella term for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and although these are all different fields, they are grouped together because of their related principles.
In the past, jobs in the STEM field have typically been the domain of men, but Megapipes Solutions believes that there is a need for its workforce to be more diverse. This is evident, even in the boardroom, where one of the earliest appointments to the company was the non-executive director, Madren Oluoch – Olunya.
Madren emphasizes that integrity, diversity, and inclusivity are central to the company’s values and integral to its continued growth. An increasingly diverse workforce will fuel this, with research (McKinsey & Co) proving that companies committed to diversity experience increased productivity and innovation.
According to Madren, “Having a diverse range of ideas and perspectives strengthens decision-making. The company’s founders have also recognized the importance of having a leader with integrity and a strong set of values. A solid foundation of ethical leadership is crucial for a company’s development.”
It is encouraging for the future of our industry to see that Megapipes Solutions is living up to its name by creating fantastic opportunities for women and a great learning platform. In support of its values, Megapipes Solutions hopes to set an example for others in STEM-related organizations by promoting women in the workplace.
Megapipes has set about challenging the stereotypical image of women in the workplace which suggests that female aspirations should not go beyond careers in nursing, teaching, or the like. For example, as a child, Shelvin Shisanya, now a welder/fabricator at Megapipes, grew up with a burning fascination for building things. The Kakamega county was local and was inspired by how she could create structures. Such curiosity and interest propelled Shelvin to take a course in welding and fabrication at St. Teresa Malava Polytechnic College. Today, her career at Megapipes is fulfilling her passion for crafting structures on rewarding projects, and she tells us, ‘It’s really gratifying to take basic raw materials and create something functional, purposeful and that will last for over a century.’
Another colleague who is excelling at Megapipes Solutions is Tara Wasike, a graduate of the University of Nairobi, who says her interest in machinery drove her to study a mechanical engineering degree. Tara says, “I have always been interested in machines and their operations, so it seemed sensible to turn that passion into a career”. Her hard work from her studies, coupled with her natural enthusiasm, has led Tara to her current role as a QC Laboratory Technician.
Through Shelvin and Tara’s work at the Megapipes Solutions Ruiru-based factory, they are actively participating in the development of Weholite technology, the company’s innovative state-of-the-art pipe technology.
Shelvin and Tara’s success in STEM careers set them apart as examples to other women who want to succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields. This is the type of environment that Megapipes Solutions wants to nurture and grow for its team. Shelvin says that the company’s continued commitment to upskilling their employees has seen her excel as a Weholite fabricator/welder.
“There is a lot of training available, along with a team of experienced colleagues willing to mentor me along the way. I have been fortunate to have been trained in the use of this new technology in a safe environment. Megapipes Solutions has given me the opportunity to expand my talents.” Some of the remarkable projects Shelvin has worked on include the Nairobi Rivers Sewerage Improvement Project Phase 2, the first project in Nairobi to make use of Weholite technology. Further to this, she has also installed drainage pipelines at the Kibos Paper Factory, Kisumu County.
Tara has equally benefited from Megapipes’ investment in her growth, saying, “The company’s dedication to investing in their employee’s professional development is truly impressive. I have been given a chance to receive training from a specialist who was been brought to teach me the intricacies of testing Weholite technology using the latest laboratory equipment.”
Megapipes Solutions’ commitment to the advancement of women’s participation in STEM fields, will ultimately result in both corporate and national benefits. A more diverse STEM workforce can help countries to stay competitive in the global marketplace, as companies seek to tap into the talents and skills of all groups.
Ms. Madren Oluoch-Olunya emphasizes that as opportunities for women in STEM expand, it is crucial for women to actively enhance their skills and capabilities to fully capitalize on these opportunities. Further to this, it’s important that established women professionals in STEM are ready to support and empower their peers in the industry.