Freedive training for National Depth Championships, Gili Islands, Indonesia.

Matthew Kovacs can hold his breath underwater for four and half minutes. In 2018 he landed a podium place in the Australian National Freediving Championships in Amed - Bali, diving to a depth of 45+ meters on a single breath. He frequently places in the top 5% of open-water swimming competitions around Victoria. 

His Melbourne Freediving Club, of which he is President, goes by the motto: ‘Found by adventure, lost without it’. The same is true for Matthew in and out of the water. 

At Ventia, Matthew is a passionate team leader working on the New Developments & Fibre Links Design for nbn across Victoria and Tasmania

His team consists of fibre designers, subject matter experts (SMEs), schedulers and automation SMEs. In the corridors of Ventia, there are unconfirmed accounts that the team’s four-year retention rate is as high as 95% - with cross-sector promotions and advancement making up the rest.  

“I’m obviously doing something right”, laughs Matthew.

My team feels safe, trusted, they can have an opinion and challenge me.

Such is the passion and skill that Matthew brings to his role: a dash of strategic influence, a pinch of people management and a smidgen of conflict resolution. A dedicated leader with a focus on high-performance coaching, his goal is to turn doers into overachievers by earning their trust along the way and ensuring they have everything they need to thrive.  

“There’s a good deal of cultural diversity in our team: Egyptian, Russian, Indian, Sri Lankan and Vietnamese for example. They have different religious affiliations and alignment so it’s very important to have a degree of cultural awareness and emotional intelligence to make it work”, he says. “For me, it’s about being curious. I’ve travelled extensively to 70+ different countries and can order a beer in multiple languages (laughs). I love experiencing cultures and being immersed in different environments”.  

As a team leader, Matthew finds it important to be flexible. But more than anything, he finds the best way to lead with integrity is by being honest and transparent. 

NBN New Developments Design Team Victoria and Tasmania.

Engineering by design  

An Electrical Technical Officer by trade, Matt has been with Ventia for seven years, working with clients like Telstra and nbn. He originally started in power systems, providing project management and electrical design work for underground distribution and substations, street lighting and sub-transmission projects. He then moved into private consultancy before joining Ventia in 2016.  

“Our contract is design and construct, we basically supply nbn® fibre services to new developments, whether it’s a business, estate or apartment”, Matthew says. “I lead all new development designs for VIC/TAS, wedged between our design staff, construction team and the client to ensure that design requirements for all stakeholders operate seamlessly”. 

As leader of day-to-day operations, Matthew ensures project delivery is kept on track and milestones are consistently met. His work is a combination of team management and providing project design and technical workflow solutions.  

To me, redefining service excellence means being client focused and renewing contracts through innovation. Both of those things are a product of the many talented people within the business.

His team’s signature project has been nbn’s infrastructure rollout and new developments – designing and installing fibre optic cable across QueenslandNSWVictoria, and Tasmania.

Hiking the Crosscut Saw to Mt Speculation, Victorian High Country.


Ventia’s strong reputation across many different service and infrastructure sectors is something that Matthew values greatly, as well as the security that comes with working on large contracts.

“I value the relationships I’ve built within this company, the cultural diversity is huge and there are great people here,” he says.  

But to him, the best part of working at Ventia may be the work-life flexibility that gives him the opportunity to pursue his other interests: swimming, diving, hiking and travelling.  

A native of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, the iconic coastal holiday destination famous for its natural beauty and spectacular scenery, Matthew developed an early sense of adventure.  

“I wanted to be a war correspondent at one stage in my life”, he recalls. “Now I’m happily settled back in Melbourne and excited about the leadership value I can bring to the business. People are the heart of our success, and I see a lot of opportunity to really help take that Ventia workforce to the next level”.   

Matthew’s bucket list:  

  • Hitch-hiked across Iraq 
  • Caught taxi helicopters across Faroe Islands  
  • Sailed up the coast of Greenland 
  • Dived Red Sea in Egypt 
  • Trekked to Petra, Jordan 
  • Hiked to Mt Everest Basecamp 
  • White-water rafted through Nepal 
  • Snow camping in Victoria’s high-country 
  • Volcano boarding in Nicaragua 
  • Camped in Sahara Desert 
  • Northern lights in Artic Circle