Abigail at SRAP with latest tesla

When Abigail Ngwenya began her career as an electrician in Zimbabwe, Africa in 2004, she never thought 18 years later she'd be working on a huge road asset maintenance contract in Sydney's west.

Before arriving in Australia, Abigail worked as an electrician for almost a decade until emigrating to Sydney in September 2017 with her family - husband Mluleki, a Control Systems Engineer and two daughters, Michelle (14) and Michaella (almost 9).  

Abigail immediately felt at home in Australia but was surprised to find that although she had been working as an electrician for years in Africa, the qualifications and licenses she had acquired were not recognised by authorities here. 

The biggest challenge in moving to Sydney was that I had to spend a year completing gap training so that I could work in the job I knew and loved.

"At first, I worked as an Electrical Trade Assistant for the purpose of raising my school fees so that I could complete the required gap training with Sydney Trains," Abigail says.

Joining Ventia on the Sydney Road Asset Performance contract

Abigail joined Ventia in July 2021 as the Sydney Roads Asset Performance (SRAP) contract kicked off with key client, Transport for NSW. 

The contract sees Ventia provide roads maintenance and asset management services to the Parklands zone, covering the western corridor of greater Sydney, comprising over 919kms of road. The contract includes management of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) across this zone and Regional New South Wales,. The ITS team maintain the sophisticated technology on Sydney's M4 smart motorway plus the Vehicle Management Systems on the M5 and M7.

Road work at night time

Our Sydney Roads Asset Performance contract provides roads maintenance and asset management services to the Parklands zone, covering the western corridor of greater Sydney.


Handling challenging conditions

Abigail is a specialist Traffic Signals Technician and undertakes maintenance of critical road signals. With recent flooding creating difficult conditions across greater Sydney and in some NSW regional areas, the team experienced peak work volumes as equipment falters in the volatile weather. 

"Because we deal with outdoor equipment our work is affected by floods or any change in weather," Abigail explains. "Sometimes we lose power as trees might fall on power lines or slippery roads cause car accidents and traffic lights are hit by drivers - too much rain means a lot of equipment damage and recently we are attending multiple, different faults and locations every day."

"Traffic lights are an essential service and they must be working all the time, available 24/7. We connect generators as quickly as possible so that assets are back up and running fast for road users."

Ventia employee, Traffic Signals Technician Abigail tanking up a Ventia EV vehicle

Abigail's manager, Derrick Lenehan praises Abigail as a great role model with her strong work ethic and her care for the team.


A positive attitude

Abigail believes to provide an essential service you have to love what you do and want to help people. 

You must drop everything and be there when help is needed. I come from a maintenance background so I take pride in minimising the downtime of equipment for our client and making sure it's available. We deal with a variety of faults and days can be unpredictable so you need to stay focused on the task at hand.

She also thinks it's important to bring a positive attitude to work and to get along with everyone you come into contact with. "In everything I do I am representing Ventia and I want my interactions with our team, members of the public and external parties like NSW Police to be positive."

It was Abigail's family that originally influenced her to want to take up a trade. "I grew up in a family that was technically minded. My brother works as an Instrument Technician and I was very close to him," said Abigail. "I thought I would give it a try and it worked out."

Building a career in electrical engineering

Ventia's focus on supporting career progression and professional development is greatly appreciated by Abigail. No stranger to study, having completed a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Human Resource Management with MANCOSA is South Africa in 2016, Abigail recently applied to study electrical engineering at the University of Western Sydney, close to her home in Sydney's south-western suburb of Catherine Field. 

Thinking ahead, she recognised that the physical nature of working on the tools day-to-day may prove challenging later in life and wanted to expand the opportunities available to her as she progresses through her career.

"In a few years' time there will be a local airport and this area is growing all the time, so there will be many opportunities to offer my skills in project planning." 

Abigail says that coming from the field, she has ground roots knowledge she can bring to managing electrical assets, so will be able to add extra value as an electrical engineer. 


Abigail sees many opportunities to build a successful career for herself on the road ahead.


Supported by management

"In Africa I already trained in electrical engineering up to Diploma level, so I thought I would just apply and try this opportunity," she says. "My manager encouraged me and said straight away he was going to support me."

Abigail's manager, Derrick Lenehan said, "Abigail is a great role model for the other ITS Technicians, with a strong work ethic and she is always providing time to train and mentor. She is a very happy person to be around, who creates a friendly team atmosphere." 

When asked what she likes about working with Ventia, she said, "There are equal opportunities at Ventia, regardless of gender or race. Leaders don't entertain any biases and people are open minded. Whenever there are challenges in the field there is always management support available 24/7." 

If you want to be happy at work and feel supported no matter what, Ventia is a good organisation.