15 November 2016 – Jon-Dylon (JD) Petersen, Deputy Head Boy of Saint Andrew’s in 2015, has been making his mark at the University of the Free State, where he was recently one of 13 Kovsies selected as part of South Africa’s top 100 graduates in the GradStar programme.
The competition was open to all students throughout South Africa and consisted of a four-part application process, which included psychometric testing, video interviewing and an assessment day followed by the Awards ceremony at the Wanderers Club towards the end of September.
JD Petersen (left) with fellow UFS top 100 graduates of the GradStar programme Minette Nortjé and Bongani Mtotoba (Photo: UFS)
“At the Awards function, we had the opportunity to meet with CEOs from top companies, the likes of Fasken Martineau, FNB, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Sasol, among others. There was a broad networking set-up,” Petersen, who received the Masey Service Prize last year, said in an interview on Tuesday.
“We also attended workshops on how to behave and learnt what employers look for in their newer employees.
“It was recognition of South Africa’s next top leaders in that regard. With my application having been successful, and having made it through step after step, I was fortunate to make the top 100 selected for the GradStar programme.”
The top 100 students were also assigned mentors, based on the fields they were studying. “There were many law students there, guys doing economics were paired up with Liberty mentors. My mentor is in the construction industry,” Petersen shared.
It was, he admitted, pleasing to receive validation that his hard work was being recognised: “It means a lot. It is nice to know that someone is noticing your efforts.”
There was a big Saint Andrew’s influence in Petersen’s decision to pursue quantity surveying, he said: “Praise to the Lord, first and foremost, and to Mr Van Kasterop, my Afrikaans’ teacher. One day we had a chat and he asked me what I am interested in and I told him I was still a bit confused, but had done my research on quantity surveying.
“He said Ruwacon was busy seeing candidates. He asked me to send him my CV and he would get my academic record and reference from the school, and he would try to get me in at Ruwacon. Thereafter I received a call from the Human Resources Manager at Ruwacon, who said they were willing to see me for an interview.
“They squeezed me in. I went in for the interview. They asked me questions about my future and why I chose the course I was interested in. With God’s grace, two weeks after that they informed me I had been awarded the bursary for this year from Ruwacon.”
Ruwacon CEO Peter Ruthven has a son at Saint Andrew’s and played a major role in laying the groundwork for the construction of the Lindsay Tuckett High Performance Centre.
Looking ahead to the future, Petersen said that for every year he studies he has to work a year for Ruwacon. Since he is planning on doing his honours, that means he would need to work for four years for the company.
“My goal is to either finish those four years, or to gain as much experience as possible in two years, as per my contract, pay them the difference of two years that I won’t be working back and apply to Murray and Roberts.
“I would really love to be sent to their Saudi Arabia branch and work on those magnificent projects that they have running in the United Arab Emirates. That is my long-term goal and where I see myself in the construction industry.”
There might be a delay before that dream is realised, Petersen shared, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
He is also considering doing a B.Com Economics degree, because economics are tightly intertwined with construction, he explained. If he completed that (and there is no doubt he has made a strong start to his tertiary education), his options and opportunities would be far greater.