RUBBER MAN: Technical engineer Zuko Mponto says machines, unlike people, don’t talk back
His job involves working with the expensive rubber that wheels motor vehicles.
What do you do?
I’m a technical engineer at Goodyear’s quality and technology department in its factory in Uitenhage outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
What does a typical day in the life of a technical engineer entail?
It involves reporting and monitoring the previous day’s key manufacturing indicators.
I work as technical support to the production area, which involves problem-solving throughout the day.
What did you do before?
Same thing. I was a process engineer at Volkswagen South Africa, also in Uitenhage.
In fact, across the street from Goodyear.
What daily challenges do you face?
There are many… among others, working with different people with different personalities.
Apart from technical skills you need to have good emotional intelligence and inter-personal relationship skills.
What do you like and dislike about your job?
What I like about my job is the fact that it is never the same – each day is different.
My dislikes include the challenges mentioned above, especially people challenges.
Machines don’t talk back, people do.
Has it always been your dream to do what you do?
When I was younger I wanted to be a medical doctor, but then my interests and talents in science developed.
Now I enjoy what I do.
What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you in your line of duty and how did you overcome it?
I attended to a customer complaint with a colleague. The customer became very rude. We remained calm and referred his problem to senior management, who then solved it.
What, where and when did you study?
I did a mechanical engineering and quality degree at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth.
I graduated in 2002.
Where do you see yourself in the near future?
Climbing the ladder in my field to the highest level.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing today, what do you think you’d be doing and why?
A preacher. That is my passion and I do it part time.
What advice do you have for young people who’d like to do your kind of job?
They need to have determination, diligence and a positive, “die-hard attitude”.