The changing face of construction: Jenny Ding

Image: jenny ding
Image: jenny ding

Before Ms Ding immigrated to Australia from China four years ago, she had worked as an Electrical Engineer for eight years. After two years of working for Zinfra as a Project Coordinator, she started her current role as a Project Engineer under the project establishment team, working mainly in the areas of power, gas and water to set up project management plans, registers and costs. While her role affords her the opportunity to work on many exciting projects, those that stand out the most are the ones where she feels she can make a difference to people and their environment. One project that holds particular significance for Ms Ding is the Brunswick Terminal Station rebuild project. “The project was in the residential area of Brunswick. People there were not very receptive to us, because they saw that we were doing construction work and were worried about how it would impact their lives,” Ms Ding said. When the project was successfully delivered, Ms Ding said that the residents’ perspective shifted. “From the outside, you wouldn’t even think it’s a station because we demolished the AIS (air-insulated switchgear) and built a new terminal station with GIS (gas-insulated switchgear). “It now looks like a park and the new facade has improved the residential surrounds. “I feel really happy with what we have done there, just to make people’s lives better. We can provide more reliable power to the local area and you can tell people really appreciate that we’ve done the hard work.” 


While Ms Ding acknowledged that there are some significant challenges facing the energy industry, she also recognises that these are not without opportunities. With cities rapidly developing, Ms Ding said that governments are investing a huge amount in infrastructure. ”There will be more opportunities for experienced project managers and subject matter experts,” Ms Ding said. “Moving forward, I would like to contribute more to the power industry by being a project manager and a subject matter expert.” One of the ways Ms Ding has been able to prepare for and act on opportunities is through mentoring from experienced colleagues. Ms Ding previously worked closely with a former senior project manager at Zinfra, who mentored her in regards to project management, such as how to deliver a project successfully, on time and on budget. “I’ve learnt a lot from my mentors and colleagues”, Ms Ding said. In turn, she also hopes to be an example of an ambitious and successful female employee in a male dominated industry, and encourage women to be diligent, self-driven and present. “This means that every day you do your best, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, because people are always willing to offer support and help,” she said. While it is still more common to see men on worksites than women, Ms Ding has been excited to see an increasing number of women joining the industry, and believes that attitudes towards women in the power sector are starting to shift. “Previously, it’s been a bit of a masculine atmosphere, but with women joining you can tell that they pay more attention to their attitude and I sense improved productivity as well.” She sees diversity within the power sector as a matter of great importance, and while she has witnessed diversity in nationality, culture and gender amongst various teams and clients within the power sector, her example of the benefits of diversity is a personal one. Two years ago, Ms Ding got the chance to go back to China on a business trip with one of Zinfra’s general managers. With valuable experience in both countries’ power sectors, Ms Ding said she became a conduit between the two companies and countries, and was able to assist in the negotiation of a project. “Given my background, I could support the two companies and reduce the risks for both parties. I was also able to help the two parties know each other better and understand what they were talking about,” she said.


While she’s certainly passionate about her career, Ms Ding also balances her work life with a keen personal interest in yoga, which she believes has flow on benefits for her mental processes. “I’ve been practicing yoga for a couple of years. I think sometimes you get a bit stressed with work, so yoga practice is really good. Through meditation and practice, I feel really relaxed and relieved, which improves my work productivity as well.” Ms Ding has also been propelled by a desire to learn and grow, whether through work or study. When she immigrated to Australia, she applied for a PhD position at RMIT and was granted the national scholarship. She took the position at Zinfra while pursuing this study; however, she felt such support from the team and the company that she decided to focus on her career and put her studies on hold. “Every day they taught me the culture here, the slang. Because of their support and help, I could settle here in just a short time. “After that, my manager asked me if I’d like to join Zinfra as a full-time employee. I decided I really did want to work for Zinfra because it’s a great company.” Four years on, Ms Ding is part of a dynamic and creative team, working towards sustainable solutions and positive outcomes for communities. She has also become a mentor for graduate engineers, sharing her insights and passion with up-and-coming professionals. “I never regret the decisions I have made,” Ms Ding said.

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we operate and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present.

Pictured: Artwork by Aboriginal artist Chern’ee Sutton from Mount Isa for our Group’s Reconciliation Action Plan.