Electricity Supply Industry Training Organisation

Industry Women

Lisa Albiston - Protection Technician Team Leader at ABB Limited

Lisa Albiston - Women in the Infrastructure IndustryI didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school.  I was a bit of a ‘tom boy’ and played lots of sport.  I was a good student but I couldn’t see myself gainfully employed in the subjects I liked.  It wasn’t until I met a female electrician in the town I lived in, and thought what she did was really cool, that I got interested in a trade. 

I told my parents I wanted to be an Electrician and Dad went out and got me a part time job with a local company pulling cables and wiring plugs.  Whilst still at school, I applied to do the ITO Taster Course.  The course gave me insight into all the trade roles I could apply for within the electricity supply industry.  I believe doing this course assisted in my application being accepted for an apprenticeship. 

I am now a qualified Electrician with my Power Technician level 5 Qualification. I currently work as the Protection Technician Team Leader at ABB Limited in Hamilton.  As a Protection Technician I test, install and commission protection equipment for high voltage sub stations.  This work can involve using large test equipment to doing analysis on a laptop. We test to ensure correct operation will occur under fault conditions, and that equipment is in good operational condition. This is to ensure the safety of personal and substation equipment during unexpected conditions.  It’s interesting, practical and analytical work.

Haley Adamson - Machine Operator at Goodman Contractors Ltd

Haley Adamson - Women in the Infrastructure IndustryHaley is a machine operator at Goodman Contractors in Waikanae, specialising in bulk earthmoving. She has worked on projects all over the Wellington and Kapiti region, and is currently based at a subdivision in Whitby, carting and filling at the site in preparation for the roading crew.

Haley first got into the Civil Industry by working for her Dad, who has a small earthworks company. She says that the job came along at just the right time, when she was stuck in a rut and lacking direction. Work gave her something to focus on and put her on the right path.

Both Haley’s brother and brother in law both worked at Goodmans, and had told her good things about the company. When a job opportunity came up five years ago Haley jumped at the chance – and she hasn’t been disappointed. Her work has taken her out and about to lots of different locations, and she is constantly learning and gaining knowledge.

When asked what she enjoys most about working at Goodmans, Haley replies without hesitation, “The people. The team I work with are really neat. And the bosses are just awesome. They really value their staff and want you to succeed.”

Goodmans are very focused on upskilling their employees, and with their support Haley achieved her first ever qualification – a Level 3 National Certificate in Infrastructure Works (Bulk Earthmoving). “It was a really big achievement for me,” she says.

Haley has a young son, and admits that it’s sometimes tricky to balance work and family life – especially when you’re working long hours. But it is possible. Her advice? “Be organised, have a good routine and a strong support network. It can be challenging at times, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Laisa Pickering - Line Mechanic at Electrix

Laisa Pickering - Women in the Infrastructure IndustryTrainee Line Mechanic Laisa Pickering was crowned Trainee of the Year at the Connexis Annual Connection Excellence Awards 2015. Laisa is one of three female line mechanics working for Electrix in Albany. Despite an unusual career path into the Electricity Supply Industry, she has found her true vocation and is thriving.

Although working as a line mechanic is pretty physical, Laisa says that being female isn’t really an issue. She says, “A lot of women might be scared off because of the physical aspect. It is physical but not as hard as many people might think and provided you have the right attitude and give it a go, it is great.” Laisa adds that being a woman in a male dominated environment isn’t a disadvantage, in fact she has been surprised by the amount of support she gets from her male colleagues.

Laisa has some tips for women who are considering a career in the Electricity Supply Industry. Firstly she says, “Know your product - No matter what industry you're in. It shows you're interested and can open doors to other opportunities within your industry. My main tip is something my Grandad taught me and it's to never stop learning. The day you think and act like you know it all is the day you will start making mistakes. Be a team player if your job requires you to work in a team and learn from the people around you as much as you can.” Laisa’s positive attitude and work ethic is clearly paying off.

Sarah Haworth - Goodman Contractors Ltd

Sarah Haworth - Women in the Infrastructure IndustryA career in the Civil Industry saw former racehorse trainer Sarah Haworth swap one type of horsepower for a very different kind. These days she drives a 40 tonne CAT dump truck at Linton Quarry in Palmerston North. “The wheels are bigger than I am,” Sarah says.

In her previous life, Sarah worked with horses all over the world. She also dabbled in real estate for a while, but needed a reliable income rather than something that was commission-based. The search for a steady job proved challenging – Sarah felt like ‘jack of all trades but master of none’ – but eventually she heard about an opportunity at Goodmans.

Sarah was an ideal candidate for the Civil Industry. She already had her truck and trailer licence and had driven road trucks, but even so, her first application to Goodmans was unsuccessful. Rather than feeling defeated she thought “What else can I do to make them want me?” Then to show her commitment she went away and got her Wheels Tracks and Rollers (WTR) endorsement. Her determination paid off, and she started with the company in March 2015.

Although she was originally employed as a dump truck driver, Sarah can operate a wide range of plant including rollers and a water carts. Sarah believes if you want to get on in the industry then you need to be versatile and be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. “I don’t mind getting out of the truck and getting my hands dirty. Basically I’m prepared to do whatever is asked of me,” she says.

Sarah’s willingness to try new things has seen her involved in a wide range of projects, the biggest being the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway project. “The great thing is that you feel like you are doing something worthwhile and making a difference,” Sarah explains. “The site visibly changes each day, and you get a real sense of achievement from seeing the project progress.”

Working in what is traditionally a male-orientated environment has never been an issue for Sarah, and she feels that women bring different skill sets and attitudes to the industry. “Women are generally more prepared to listen and ask questions. We don’t know it all. We also tend to be a lot kinder on the machines and take more care with them, although the guys sometimes call me ‘Nana’ because of it,” she laughs.

In the future Sarah is looking to broaden her skills, and possibly look at doing an industry qualification. “I just want to learn as much as I can,” she says. “I’m happy where I am for now, but in the future, who knows – maybe more responsibility or potential leader? There are lots of options.”

Holly Murphy - Transmission Line Mechanic at Electrix

Holly Murphy - women in the Infrastructure IndustryBecoming a hairdresser or a nurse just wasn’t an option for me. At school I liked mechanical workshop and enjoyed being outdoors and playing sport, like hockey. I started training as an auto electrician but it wasn’t until I saw an advertisement from Electrix advertising for females to attend a boot camp to learn more about jobs in the electricity supply industry, that I changed my career path. 

Working as a Transmission Line Mechanic at Electrix, means working at great heights and with high voltage electricity as we maintain transmission pylons, across the country.  I really enjoy my job and the best part is the people I work with.

Jamie Avery - Dump Truck Operator at Goodman Contractors Ltd

Jamie Avery - Women in the Infrastructure IndustryJamie Avery worked in hospitality when she left school, but she always knew it wasn’t really her thing. Her Dad and Grandad had been in mining and earthmoving for as long as she could remember, and Jamie decided she wanted to follow in their footsteps and drive trucks.

Originally from the West Coast, Jamie spent four years working at Stockton Mine followed by five years at an open cast mine in Australia. She was totally green when she got into the industry, but far from it being a disadvantage she discovered that many employers welcome people with no experience. “Lots of companies prefer to take on new people as they haven’t had a chance to develop bad habits,” she explains. ”It’s easier to train someone up the right way from scratch than retrain.”

Jamie learned everything she knows on the job. She holds Class 2 and 4 Driver Licence endorsements and can drive trucks, loaders, and everything else in between.

Last year was a big year of personal growth for Jamie, and she learned how to drive a road truck. She also decided to make the move back to New Zealand, and spent some time working in earthmoving with her Dad.

With things quietening down on the West Coast, Jamie decided to look at new opportunities. She recently moved to the North Island and is working as a Dump Truck Operator at Goodman Contractors Ltd. Jamie is based at Belmont Quarry in Lower Hutt, and drives a truck taking rocks to the crusher. She is enjoying working in Civil Infrastructure, and is now considering her long term career options.

Although operating machinery is traditionally seen as male-dominated, Jamie feels it is no longer just a man’s world. She says, “A lot of employers prefer females over males. We’re better on machinery – we take our time and we’re more careful. Plus, we don’t break it as often! Driving and operating machinery is a great career for women – I’d definitely recommend it.”

Aroha Mclean - Cable Jointer at Northpower

    Aroha McLean - Industry womenMy husband is an electrician, but I had never thought about a career in the electricity supply industry until I saw Northpowers’ advertisement encouraging females to come along to an open day. It was practical and physical – for example, climbing poles and hauling cable.

    I chose cable jointing over becoming a line mechanic because I don’t like heights. There are certainly challenges with the job – you must be physically fit and able to do the work but the best part is succeeding at it.  I’ve now qualified having completed my National Certificate in Electricity Supply for Cable Jointing.

    Training to become a cable jointer is the best decision I have ever made.