Never say the sky is the limit. There are footprints on the moon.

“Thania is cool in so many ways” says Prudence Zulu, receptionist at N3TC Head Office. “We have learnt a lot from her about work, life and many other things. She always says Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good. We are like family now.” Thania Doogra-Chetty has become an integral part of the N3TC team since her mum was looking through ads in the newspaper and suggested she apply for the position of Technical Information Manager eight years ago. It is obvious that she really loves the people she works with. “N3TC culture is so inclusive, we all help one another to progress and get the job done. Everyone takes ownership of their role and is keen to contribute.”

Although Thania is entirely South African, she is inspired by her family history. Her great grandparents arrived in the late 1800s as merchants, to forge a new life. “Our family is like a jambalaya, or maybe I should say biriyani?! There are many religions and races represented, we are exhibitionists and there is always something happening.” Despite having only one sister (now a scientist), growing up in a large extended family in Lodium means that all her cousins are considered brothers and sisters too. “Being part of a traditional Indian family ensures that there’s always someone around to help and support you when you need it, but it also means that they’re there even when you don’t need them. You are never alone!” Thania parents were pretty liberal for the times and encouraged the girls to ask questions and challenge ideas. “We wanted to know – what is the reason for fasting? Once we understood, we here happy. I still fast today”

Thania’s job is now Operations Manager, in charge of making sure systems run smoothly to keep the world class N3 highway up to standard. Things can get hectic, but the view of tree tops from her office window and sound of the stream below are calming on even the craziest day. Not one to sit back, she grasps every opportunity to gain new skills and build relationships. “I’m certainly not leaving N3TC. The most overwhelming feeling I have during a meeting with management is that they trust what I am saying. My job is so interesting, I’m constantly engaged, I’ll never get bored.” Whether it is sorting out an issue at the Toll Plaza, improving her advanced driving skills or doing an obstacle course with the girls at boot camp, her attention is focussed fully on the task at hand.

The mix of traditional and modern, Shiva and Disney, career and play, hard work and glamour that fills her life is fascinating. She loves nothing more than whipping up a quick curry and relaxing at the end of a busy day to watch a Disney movie from her extensive collection. “Mulan is my alltime favourite, although Beauty and the Beast comes a close second.” After a hectic week of work, theatre and entertaining – building block towers with her newest nephew beside the dam while her Dad fishes, is her idea of heaven. The spectacular view of the Russian Orthodox Church towers from the front door of her modern townhouse is a surprise, as is the collection of plastic Disney icons juxtaposed with wooden tables and lamps handcrafted by her father in the living area.

Thania loves music, has an eclectic taste (obviously) and admits that there is always a song in her head which the rest of the world can’t hear. This means she may often be found bopping to an invisible beat. Thania certainly sets her own pace, moves to her own rhythm, is completely comfortable in her own skin and ‘feels good’ wherever she goes.

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Thania Doogra-Chetty loves shoes too! Pic: Nikki Brighton