Alana – the woman who’s happiest perched on the top of a power pole at a Line Mechanic

benstevens Energy, Ultimit/Women in Infrastructure

Alana Welsh is happiest perched on the top of a power pole out in the fresh country air taking in the sweeping views across the Christchurch landscape and out to the peninsula. And it’s all in a day’s work for her.

A trainee line mechanic with Christchurch’s Independent Lines Services Alana loves the physicality and outdoor setting the job offers. “My dad Laurie has been a line mechanic forever and he inspired me to join the industry, he now works part time in the Independent Lines Services yard and is a professional firefighter,” Alana says.

“When I told him that I wanted to join the industry I think he was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle working with all the boys, but he knows me. I was also a furniture mover for six years with my sister and we were the only female so I’m used to breaking down perceptions in a male-dominated industry.

“The guys are great to work with, very supportive and understanding and they have a great sense of humour, we all work as a team. They don’t treat me any differently to the rest of the crew.

“To start with I felt the pressure of being the only woman and I struggled a bit with it at first, but once I got to know the guys and we clicked it was fine. They understand me and step up and help if I need it, I also ask lots of questions.”

Always preferring physical and hands-on work, because she struggles with the written aspect, the hands-on electricity supply industry is a perfect career choice for Alana. “My first job was in healthcare, but the money wasn’t very good so I looked around for something else. I started with Independent Lines Services helping out with the Annual Connection competition, driving a fork lift, digging holes and doing other jobs. After that I was offered a contract with civil for 6 months in wheels trucks and rollers.

“I then made a choice between overhead and underground and went with overhead as it’s more physical and I like that. Every day is different and you’re never in the same spot. One of the best things about my job is that I’m outside every day.”

Alana’s work involves day to day maintenance of power lines, with some fault work if her crew is needed. “We went to a job the other day where a huge macrocarpa tree had fallen on some lines and damaged them, that was exciting.”

Two and half years down the track as a trainee line mechanic Alana is determined to become fully qualified. “I’ve done all my on-the-job training and study and had my finals last week, my paperwork let me down so it’s back to the drawing board, but I’m not worried I’ll get there. Once I qualify it will be a huge accomplishment for me, especially since I struggle with the written part.”

What’s next for Alana’s career? She isn’t sure yet. “I still have a lot to learn. Even the guys who have been in the job for three years say that there’s still lots to learn.

“I love working for Independent Lines, they’re a great company to work for, they really look after me.”

And Alana’s advice to women looking for a career in the industry is to go for it. “I love meeting and seeing other women in the industry. It’s a good steady career with lots of job options.”

“Women bring a whole different skill set and perspective to the job – including being gentler on the crane controls!” she laughs.

In her spare time Alana continues with her love of the outdoors enjoying bush walks with her partner, and on a Sunday you’ll find her spiking her adrenalin rush and racing a street stock car with her sister, helped by the rest of the family as the pit crew.