The South African Professional Services Awards (SAPSA), sponsored by Sanlam and W. Consulting, has bestowed the title of Woman Professional of the Year for 2019/2020 on Kim Timm (Pr Eng), Executive – Structures, Buildings and Places at infrastructure delivery company AECOM.
Professionals from a wide range of companies were set to gather at a gala dinner in Montecasino Ballroom on the evening of 19 March. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SAPSA Awards were indefinitely postponed.
The organisers subsequently undertook to progressively announce the winners for the 2019/2020 edition prior to hosting a future gathering for all finalists and guests. This marks the fifth edition of the awards, following a rigorous process of determining winners based on strict criteria.
Janette Minnaar, chair of the adjudication panel, explains how the winners were determined: “Individuals were judged based on a host of attributes, including demonstration of leadership skills, changing of paradigms and innovation within the bounds of available resources.”
Timm has a BSc Eng (Civ) from the University of Cape Town and a MSc Eng (Civ) from the University of Stellenbosch. Describing herself as an all-rounder, she has worked on both heavy and light industrial, retail, commercial and residential projects. “I enjoy the size and diversity of the projects and the teams we get to work with.”
A recent flagship project for Timm was the challenging dolomitic ground conditions at the site of the new Lakeside head office in Centurion, Pretoria for resources company Exxaro. Here AECOM collaborated closely with AMA Architects to optimise the building design.
Timm has previously been recognised within her profession as a finalist for the Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Young Engineer of the Year Award in 2010. In 2019, she was recognised by CESA as Mentor of the Year. She recently co-authored two papers at an international conference in Nantes, France.
Commenting on her mentoring role, she highlights: “I love seeing the passion and enthusiasm the candidates bring to the industry. It is highly rewarding to have the opportunity to help shape their careers and futures. They challenge me to reassess my own views and opinions, and our relationship hence becomes a partnership that we all learn from.”
Timm adds: “When I started working in this industry, I was frequently the only woman engineer that the contractors had ever met. This situation caused several early misunderstandings. I found that over time, as I became more experienced and more women joined the profession, it has become easier.
“There is definitely still bias around gender in the industry, and this will take time to change. I’ve always believed that the only way I will change the misconception that women don’t belong in engineering is to be the best engineer that I can possibly be. It makes it a lot harder for people to argue the point if you are living evidence that they are incorrect,” Timm concludes.