“Ireland is a place that can easily become a home,” says Project Planner Babalwa Sigonya about her move from South Africa to the Emerald Isle

For Babalwa Sigonya working in Ireland was the opportunity to grow her career and work on leading-edge projects that create a more connected and sustainable future for our planet.

Having worked on the two largest coal-fired power stations in her home country, Babalwa is using her experience to manage the programmes for some of our larger projects, covering data centres, substations and sustainable energy projects across Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe.

“As a team, we work with the Project Managers to develop and deliver schemes – some of which are the first of their kind – managing design amends, supply chains, materials, and variations to ensure we are ahead of the curve and deliver the best experience for our clients,” she adds.

Day to day Babalwa will set up reports for the Project Managers and other Planners, outlining the risks and opportunities for betterment on each project, these are also shared with senior leaders within Kirby for staffing and resourcing awareness, and support. “We all work with an open book. We work together as a team, and with the support of our senior leaders, we can allocate resources to ensure we deliver for our clients and achieve the best programme possible,” she explains.

Her role also sees her meet with clients regularly to communicate changes and update on progress. “We are open and honest in our conversations with clients. I think this approach sets Kirby apart,” says Babalwa, who qualified as a Quantity Surveyor in 2010, from University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

After graduating, Babalwa returned to her home city of Mthatha to work as a Project Planner on the construction of 10 large schools in rural parts of the Eastern Cape. Later going on to work on a hospital, she eventually became a project consultant for a company in Pretoria. Here she spent five years travelling across the country to support large infrastructure projects.

Babalwa Sigonya, or Babs as she is affectionally referred to by her colleagues, has been with Kirby for three years now. A Project Planner, and qualified Quantity Surveyor, Babalwa says: “Ireland is a place that can easily become a home”.

When we speak as part of this interview she has recently returned from maternity leave. Her little girl – now 12 months – was born in Ireland and calls Limerick her home.

“The healthcare was amazing. She’s now started at nursery and loves it,” she adds. Her husband took shared family leave, as Babalwa returned to work after six months.

In April, Babalwa was part of a group of South African expats who met a congregation of officials from the South African government’s Department of Labour. “South Africa has a lot to offer the world, we have talented graduates looking to work on projects to enhance their skills, and highly experienced professionals with an array of skills to offer to our industry.

“It was a great opportunity to share my experience of moving to Ireland, and hopefully help others to make the move and grow their careers,” adds Babalwa.

“For me, Kirby made the transition seamless, there was help and support with documentation, visas and permits. It is much easier now, of course, without COVID-19 travel restrictions,” she adds.

She is enjoying her new life in Ireland, and has taken up hiking, while her husband spends his down time fishing. “The weather was hard to get used to,” she jokes, “but now I am even starting to find comfort in the rain.”

To find out more about careers with Kirby in Ireland, or abroad, go to careers.kirbygroup.com.

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Babalwa Sigonya, Project Planner
Babalwa Sigonya, Project Planner
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