When Sarah Elneima arrived in Australia as a newly minted Mechanical Engineer, she didn't have to look far for her first work opportunity.  

"In my search I was immediately attracted to Ventia because of its culture, the size of the company and diversity of activities", she says. "I buzzed Ryan Cassidy right away at Skout Solutions".  

Ryan is Talent Acquisition Lead at Skout, Ventia's talent and workforce acquisition partner. At that point, Sarah had only been in the country three months, living in Melbourne.  

Mechanical engineering is not a common career path among women. In Sudan, where Sarah was born, there were only five women out of 125 students in her university program. In Malaysia where she later studied, the ratio was not much better. And in Australia women constitute only 16% of engineering graduates and only 13% of the engineering workforce, according to Engineers Australia.  

There is currently a skills shortage of experienced engineers in Australia as demand grows. The Australian Government National Skills Commission reports employment in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) occupations has grown 85% since the 2000s and twice as fast as non-STEM occupations. They further report this is expected to grow by 12.9% over the next five years. 

So why engineering?  

"I'm a bit on the nerdy side", laughs Sarah.   

Originally from Sudan in Northeast Africa, Sarah accepted a full scholarship from global Malaysian energy group Petronas to study Mechanical 

Engineering at the Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS.  After completing her bachelor's degree, she decided Australia was the place to be. 

"Australia is an English-speaking country which makes it easier for me to socialise", she says. "Australians are truly remarkable individuals, known for their exceptional warmth, genuine friendliness, and natural inclination to extend a helping hand when needed. I had heard this before coming here, and it has been my experience. Also, the weather is great, but I still have a lot to learn about food and culture".  

With her Mechanical Engineering background, Sarah decided Reliability Engineering was the next logical step.  

A reliability engineer is a technical expert who assesses the risks and reliability associated with assets in business operations. They typically conduct risk assessments and help organisations with loss elimination and lifecycle asset management. In addition to project maintenance engineering, it requires a lot of analytics and planning. 

"I found this field interesting", she says.   

Pictured: Reliability Engineer Sarah Elneima. 

Critical infrastructure lifecycle  

With Ventia, Sarah is part of the Network Integrity and Facilities Management telecommunications team.  

"We manage the maintenance of client assets nationwide," she says.

I ensure all the activities coincide with Australian legislation and Ventia standards, including negotiating with clients, terms, making sure contractors comply with Health, Safety and Environmental standards, contracts and reporting.

Ventia's large specialist workforce manages and maintains a vast portfolio of more than 1.5 million assets and 40,000+ sites across Australia and New Zealand, ensuring critical infrastructure lifecycle and network resilience.    

Sarah's work ensures that all client Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems and Essential Safety Measures (ESM) assets like fire safety equipment, extinguishers, fixed elements, fire control panels and alarm systems are fully operational and compliant nationwide.  

In addition to engineering, Sarah studied music theory and solfège (the study of notes) for one year in Sudan. She learned to play the oud, a traditional Arabic fretless string instrument like a guitar also known as the 'composer's instrument', popular throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa.  

"Music is a profound and integral facet of my culture and has always held a great significance in my life. With its magnificent ability to inspire, it serves as a vessel for cherishing my cultural roots, while simultaneously forging connections with the rich tapestry of other cultures." 

Sarah is also a passionate advocate of women's rights.  

"Sudan is part of the Middle East, where women rights still face significant challenges. My journey into women rights advocacy is a mission, a calling that stirs my soul and propels me to make a difference".