Life at Lekela #7: Conrad Calitz, Technical Manager, Lekela

Lekela is an international organisation, with our people based in Senegal, Egypt, South Africa and the UK. We want to shine a light on the amazing work our people do across Africa and in Europe and hear directly from our employees on what life at Lekela is really like.

Each month, we’re speaking to different employees across Lekela to hear what they’re working on and what led them to this industry.

Today we’re speaking to Conrad Calitz, Technical Manager at Lekela. Read below for some of Conrad’s thoughts on what led him to renewables and what a day in his life at work is like.

What led you to a career in renewables and to Lekela?

Having been raised in the energy sector, I have always been drawn towards this field. I fondly remember that road trips as a child always included detours to visit hydro, nuclear and traditional power generation facilities. I remember being curious to learn how these facilities were constructed and operated. And unsurprisingly, I later qualified as an electrical and electronic engineer.

One of my first roles was in electrification projects in South Africa, connecting both new and established communities to the electrical grid. There, I witnessed first-hand the importance and life-changing impact access to electricity made on people’s lives. I haven’t considered leaving the energy sector since.

As part of the energy transition the world needs to pursue, renewables are a global priority and I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with solar PV and wind projects across the world. But ultimately being proudly South African, the natural draw to the African continent cannot be broken.

I’ve worked with Lekela on a number of occasions across the African continent (including in Senegal and South Africa), most recently as a Consultant managing contracting and construction for Lekela’s West Bakr Wind Farm in Egypt. I worked closely with Lekela’s team during this time, so it felt natural to join the team in London on a full-time basis, both to close out the West Bakr project, and assist with existing and future projects across the continent.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Working with Lekela allows me to continue my passion for delivering projects in the most effective manner, whether that be from the London office or on the ground and on-site. I never fully unpack my safety boots and hardhat in anticipation of keeping my boots dirty on the ground!

In my role as Technical Manager, I particularly enjoy visiting teams on site and in-country. I like understanding how best I can support their priorities and the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis, particularly when unforeseen circumstances arise and a dynamic approach is needed.

What does your role involve on a day-to-day basis?

The main purpose of my role as Technical Manager is to provide technical and project management leadership to ensure good quality projects are developed, constructed and operated in a technically sound manner and on budget.  I support teams in-country and on project on a range of technical topics, particularly in Egypt where I wear two hats, as I am also the Construction Project Director for Lekela’s West Bakr Wind Farm. I also work closely with Lekela’s Business Development team, as well as with the ESG team to ensure we maintain high standards and safe working practices.

My average week at Lekela is never dull! On a typical day, I could be compiling board reports, checking in with a facility on a component repair, meeting with legal counsel on the technical details around a future project and meeting with a contractor performing site works on one of our other projects.