Breaking out of a cage
“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself, the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery, the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others,” – Leonardo da Vinci. My name is Thato Nkikana, born and raised in Maputsoe, Lesotho. I am a Mosotho woman holding a Diploma in Architectural Technology from Lerotholi Polytechnic. As a fellow in rise’s in loco program, our 2020 cohort designed and constructed the Lesotho National Federation of Organizations of the Disabled headquarter offices at Ha Ts’osane Maseru, Lesotho. I was the Site Architect of this great project which we have successfully completed and now awaiting inauguration.
From my childhood, I was always fascinated by young and vibrant women who were classified as successful in their respective careers, this is where my aspiration to become a prominent career woman was birthed. With a great passion for architecture and construction, I decided that if I ever needed to, I would push and breakdown doors to bring about change and empower women in the built environment industry. I consider myself a supporter of well-being and employability for women in this sector and I firmly believe that entrepreneurship is the rightful path to our progression.
Educational institutions equip us with much needed theoretical knowledge, but in this field theory is only as good as the person practicing it. As a young graduate, I felt the need to join the in loco fellowship to gain practical experience in architectural design and construction. The “learning- by- doing” motto lured me into having interest in the program, and I am glad I gave it a chance because my life will never be the same again. Being a site architect in the project we just completed sharpened my eye on design correlating perfectly with actual construction work, it trained me on paying great attention to detail and making sure no stone is unturned when working in the field.
The in loco fellowship improved my professional perspective and also contributed to my personal development. We create as a team, and this has shaped my soft skills. I can now communicate effectively and work well in a group of people, being a part of such a creative and forward thinking group challenged my abilities in a very positive way. Hence I am coming out more motivated and inspired to build a future for myself in the built environment industry. My creativity has reached beyond ordinary because I now take initiative and I am committed.
We were provided with business training sessions that refine well equipped entrepreneurs of the future; many skills which I did not have before the fellowship. I now have skills in market research, knowing how to grow my business through marketing, bookkeeping, and money management. I can draw a business plan from scratch and execute it meticulously, all credit to the objectives of the fellowship. The LNFOD project is one of its own kind in Lesotho. The building accommodates all Basotho with unique abilities by inclusive designs throughout the building. The project will benefit the community and LNFOD because they will generate income from renting out their boardroom to the community to secure economic sustainability of the building, it is truly heart- warming to have been part of creating such a life impacting structure in the country.
I am proud to have been part of rise international’s in loco fellowship, specifically the cohort of 2020. Through it, I have made bold moves. I established a start-up called Wom Designs & Construction, fully known as Women in Design and Construction. It provides architectural and construction services from project inception to completion. The mission of my company is to bridge the ever-expanding gender inequality gap in the built environment industry. I have become a woman who makes courageous moves to better myself, my community, and to do my part in solving the world’s problems of unemployment, gender inequality and exclusion of differently enabled people.