Name and Surname: Vuyelwa Masango
Qualification details: Bachelor of Science Honours in Environmental Management
Birthplace: Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
Current location: Durban
What are you currently doing: Node Coordinator for Tourism Blue Flag Project (Former Beach Steward)
Quote that motivates your work: My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, compassion, humor, and style.” – Maya Angelou
- When you were younger, what did you think you’d become?
I thought I was going to be an interior designer. I truly love art and believe it lives within me.
- Tell us about your career path. What steps did you take to get where you are?
I studied a Bachelor of Social Science, Geography and Environmental Management at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. During my undergraduate years, I was an active student member for the International Association Impact Assessment of South Africa (IAIASA). During my third year I participated in the 2015 Lost Mountain Symposium which was conducted by Legado. I also was a research assistant for a PHD student. In 2016, I volunteered as an environmental educator at Habit@Earth. Along with participating in the Habitable Planet workshop which was held by the Applied Centre for Climate and Earth System Science. In 2017, I worked as a beach steward and pursued an Environmental Education Training and Development Practice course under the Tourism Blue Flag Stewardship Programme that was conducted by WESSA in partnership with the National Department of Tourism. I also pursued a Bachelor of Science Honours in Environmental Management at the University of South Africa.
- What influenced your career choice?
In Highschool I had a great geography teacher who introduced me to the environmental field. I then was intrigued to gain more knowledge with regards to geography, environmental systems and conservation. I saw the environment as a form of art and therefore felt like it was my duty to protect it.
- Did you know about this career when you were younger?
Yes, I did. However, had an amorphous understanding of it.
- Describe a typical work day?
I conduct administrative duties which include; setting work schedules, processing leave and toil days, processing attendance registers and writing reports. I also support and supervise beach stewards, build and maintain relationships with stakeholders and hosts. Along with implementing and executing environmental education events that provide more exposure to beach stewards and raises the project’s profile. If I am not at the office conducting the mentioned duties, I am on site with beach stewards, attending meetings with stakeholders or assisting the Blue Flag project with occasional beach inspections.
- What makes your work exciting?
That I get to contribute to a project that is all about protecting the environment and promoting eco-tourism. I also get to travel and visit multiple KZN beaches. As a result of supporting and supervising beach stewards.
- What makes your work challenging?
I was once a beach steward, therefore the transition from being a beach steward to managing beach stewards has been quite challenging. As some stewards still saw me as one of them, instead of their manager.
- If you had to pinpoint a defining moment in your career, what would that be?
When my name was called out at my graduation ceremony. That overwhelming feeling of walking on stage to collect your degree is priceless.
- When did you know for sure this career is for you?
When I got accepted in University to study further within the geography and environmental field.
- What do you wish you knew, before you started on this career path?
The environmental field is broad as it has multiple sectors and disciplines. Therefore, I wish I knew that I had to find an environmental sector that I am passionate about and to take on a role that I am good at. As this would assist me in succeeding in my career.
- How does your current role fit into your career goals?
My job fits into my career goals because after I completed my undergraduate degree and the Environmental Education Training and Development course, I wanted to work for a project or company that promotes conservation and sustainable development. To be able to contribute effectively towards environmental education and awareness, sustainable living and environmental management.
- What are your next steps? What do you still need to do to achieve your ideal work situation?
My next step is to do a short course in project management.
- What advice would you give to a young person?
Be courageous, faithful and true to who you are. What is meant for you will find its way. Ten years from now, it will all make sense and you will understand why your life progressed the way it did.