Mehendra Sewpersadh is an award-winning businessman. He is a Master plumber, a recognised leader in the plumbing industry and is part of the transformation and CPD committee at the PIRB. With a lot of titles and accolades under his belt, one might believe that he has done enough for the plumbing industry. But Mehen’s passion has extended far beyond his accomplishments and awards. He continues to be an active leader in the industry by extending his knowledge and time to guide the current and aspiring generation of plumbers. In an effort to continue with this mission, his recent undertaking is becoming a board member of the Plumbing Industry Registration Board.
Many people lack a full understanding of the role that the board plays in non-profit organisations. In this article, I will explain it two-fold, first by sharing the responsibilities of board members. And second, by using the qualities of a board member to help you understand the role Mehen plays as a Board member in this rich and ever-evolving industry.
Board members govern the organisation and steer it towards a sustainable future. They manage budgets and set measurable goals. In the case of the PIRB, the board is made up of 5 representatives. These include plumbers, associations, insurance, education and government representative. With their different expertise, they bring strong strategic experience to help the organization identify opportunities and grow. Ultimately, they secure adequate resources for the organization to fulfill its mission. For the PIRB, the mission is to promote better plumbing practices to protect the health and safety of our communities. It is to preserve the integrity of the water supply and wastewater systems in South Africa.
This is not an easy mission. It requires strong knowledge and a strong vision to achieve it. Forming part of the board, therefore, demands that you are on top of your game, have a clear vision for the industry, and most importantly, above having a passion, put the passion into action to uplift the industry. These are only a few of the qualities that are needed for a board member. To help you understand Mehen’s significance on the board, I will share his story using Greatboard.org’s list of the qualities of a great board member:
- Curiosity to Learn More
The phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is not quite applicable to Mehendra’s life story. From inception, it seemed that Mehen was being pulled into the plumbing industry. What began as a fascination for his uncle’s job in childhood ended in a lifelong passion in plumbing. Growing up, plumbing was not Mehen’s first love. He wanted to become an Accountant. However, with his rural background and the lack of financial resources, he had to let go of that dream to pursue another career. From admiring his uncle, he found interest in his plumbing career. He would help his uncle do plumbing work on weekends. That was the start of the spark. Since then, Mehen acquired his qualification, become licenced and to this day, he does courses to learn more about the industry and shares it with his employees and plumbers across South Africa.
- Passion for the Cause
Working with his uncle and learning was only an introduction to plumbing. Mehen’s true passion for the industry started back in 2000 when he, by what seemed to be mere chance, encountered Steve Brown, the operations manager at the Institute of Plumbing South Africa at a store. Steve was passionately sharing the importance of professionalising the industry, having pride as plumbers and the importance of keeping up with your skills as a professional. Until then, Mehen had only seen people practice plumbing, but not quite express such pride and eagerness about the industry. It was that very encounter that instilled a higher drive in Mehen. For the first time, he had come across someone who wanted to see the industry grow and more than that, someone who was doing something about that vision.
Fast-forward to twenty-two years later, Mehen and Steve go across South Africa and educate and motivate people to join the ever-growing industry. The passion has only grown since then. Not just for the plumbing industry, but for PIRB’s vision to professionalise the plumbers in South Africa.
- Excitement for Committees
Mehen is part of the Transformation and Continuous Professional Development committee at the PIRB. He is passionate about fighting for the representation of marginalised individuals. Throughout the years, he has gone to great lengths to improve the skills and knowledge of plumbers across the country. This includes going on Roadshows and Plumber’s evenings to help him connect with plumbers and get first-hand feedback and concerns from plumbers. In that way, he brings their voices onto the board to ensure that they are heard and empowered.
- A Desire for Stewardship and Service
There are many ways to show stewardship and service, and building a school is certainly in the top 3. Mehen has been building a school to help aspiring plumbers. After years of traveling across South Africa, he realised how many resources people from rural areas lacked. Motivated by his past, he began the process of creating a specialisation school which is set to be launched next year. He understands the impact of lacking resources and has extended his time and resources to alleviate that problem for the people who come after him.
These are only four characteristics that make up a great board member, but from Mehen’s life, there is so much to learn. He has cemented his place in the industry. He continues to develop the plumbers of South Africa in alignment with the PIRB’s mission and the fruits of his seeds are evident in the lives of the people who have encountered him.
Written by Naomi Bango