Daniel Kidane – From Cape Town to Melbourne

July 05, 2022
  • Project
  • People and community
  • Diversity and inclusion

Daniel Kidane is a Senior Project Engineer working for the Rail Network Alliance. Currently the project is for Traction Power Upgrades between South Kensington and Sunbury. Working on such a complex project means that he’s always busy, but he took some time to talk about his career and what it was like moving from South Africa to Australia.

Tell us about your current role on the Rail Network Alliance Project.

I’m a Senior Project Engineer responsible for the overhead infrastructure upgrade on the Sunbury and Caulfield Lines. I am part of the delivery team in the overhead wiring space and am responsible for the project to be delivered within the agreed scope, schedule and cost. 

This is a major, complex project and involves a lot of hard work, but that is what I love to do. It is all part of working in construction. We work hard for two or three years, and then see a project come alive. This is what really drives me.

How did you get started in the construction industry?

I come from Eritrea in Africa, and I completed my diploma in surveying in 1999. In 2001, I had the opportunity to go to South Africa and earnt my degree in engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town. I also competed Post Graduate diploma in Project Management from Stellenbosch University. In 2002 I started working on road projects in Cape Town with Martin & East (Pty) LTD.  I moved into rail projects in 2012 with Transnet Capital Project, and was involved in a major upgrade of Vryheid East Yard as a Project Manager. I also worked on other capital investments designed to improve the efficiency and productivity of the rail network for the export of coal from Ermelo to Richards Bay.  

How did you come to work in Australia?

The opportunity came through Linkedin. I was offered a position as a Project Engineer in Melbourne, and decided to take it. I really enjoyed my time in South Africa especially Cape Town, it is a beautiful city, but the opportunity in Australia was good so I decided to make the move.

Have you enjoyed working in Australia?

One thing I can say for sure is that Australia is a country full of opportunity. It has been worth the move for me and I’m very grateful as I’ve been promoted from my initial role as Project Engineer to Senior Project Engineer and have also registered as a Chartered Engineer (CengT) with Engineering Australia.

What was the move itself like? Was it scary coming to a new country?

It was a bit scary at first, because I came with my wife and two children, and we did not have any other family here. But we’ve made friends, settled in and Melbourne is home now.

CPB Contractors supported us through the whole process with visas, flights, and accommodation. If anything was unclear or uncertain, it was only a matter of asking the question and things got sorted out.

With CPB’s support I’ve now started the process of becoming a permanent resident.

Are you enjoying living in Melbourne?

Yes, the family like going on road trips and we enjoyed driving the Great Ocean Road. I’m very family oriented and spend most of my time away from work taking the children to swimming lessons or to church.

Melbourne is a metropolitan city with people from all over the world, and I enjoy that aspect of it. I like the weather and the way that all the infrastructure, - the trains, buses, and trams - work together to make the city run. 

What would your advice be to other people looking to move to Australia to join the construction industry?

Australia is an open society, so come and grab the opportunity. Do not be scared of participating or contributing your knowledge. I believe in backing your own performance and if you have the will and the desire, then there is no reason not to.

There are obviously going to be things that are different to what you are used to but give yourself time to adjust and adapt. It is a different culture with a different way of doing things, but once I settled into the job everything was good. Australia has all the resources you need to succeed.

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