Stumbling into chemistry

Stumbling into chemistry

Dr Mali says she did not always envision herself as a renewable energy specialist.

After completing matric at Inanda Seminary she joined Stumbling into chemistry

the University of the Witwatersrand as a medical student. “I wanted to be a doctor and did medicine for a couple of years.

Then I started thinking about the responsibility that came with being a doctor and the fact that I would be responsible for someone’s life.

“I dropped out of medical school and pursued a degree in chemistry.

It was easier for me because in chemistry if an experiment does not work you throw it down the drain and start afresh, but as a doctor I wouldn’t have that luxury.”

As she grew in her career, Dr Mali knew that she was not going to be a chemist that worked

in the laboratory because of her love for interacting with people. “I like being involved in work that will have societal impact.

I knew I would be doing something different, away from the lab,” she says. Stepping into the renewable energy light

Dr Mali has been with SANEDI since 2007, when the organisation was still known as SANERI. Prior to joining the organisation she worked at Sasol holding various positions.

“While I was still at Sasol I was invited to Parliament where the former Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, was presenting his budget speech.

“He spoke about this organisation – the South African National Energy Research Institute – that was going to be created and for some reason I knew I was going to work there.

I didn’t know why and how but I knew I was going to be involved in what he was talking about. It just resonated with me.”

When SANERI was finally formed the organisation advertised a position for a Senior Manager: Renewables.

“I was headhunted for the job in 2007,” Dr Mali recalls. “The major part of my job was to accelerate research into the marketplace.

We would fund applied research, which we took from the lab to be and tried out as pilots.

We also needed to grow the number of post graduates in the sector.”

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