Experience and passion are a winning combo for Awards finalist

benstevens Excellence Awards Finalist

James Aranui 

Investing in Youth Training and Development finalist 

As a Trade Coach for Unison Contracting Services, James Aranui – known as Jimmy to his work mates – readily shares the experience and knowledge he’s gained from more than 30 years in the energy sector with those just starting out in the industry. 

Jimmy is a finalist in the “Investing in Youth Training and Development” category of the 2021 Connexis Industry Excellence Awards. Sponsored by Electrix, this category is a chance to recognise those individuals who invest their time and energy in training the next generation of infrastructure workers (those aged 16-25).  

Jimmy was nominated by Luke Gleeson, Unison Performance Manager. Luke says Jimmy is a “special man, who supports the growth and development of people in an industry he loves and has made a lifelong commitment to”. 

In his role, in Unison’s Hastings branch, Jimmy is involved in the daily coaching and mentoring of staff, as well as keeping training materials and resources up to date. He became a registered workplace assessor through Connexis in 2021 and has been instrumental in Unison’s involvement with initiatives such as Girls with Hi-Vis®> https://www.connexis.org.nz/girls-with-hi-vis/ 

He has also coached winning teams for Unison for the 2015, 2016, and 2019 Annual Connection Line Mechanic competition.  

Annual Connection is a three-day celebration of the energy sector, and the Industry Awards are traditionally held at their close. The Awards have moved online this year after COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of Annual Connection for the second year in a row.  

Luke says Jimmy’s relaxed, friendly exterior might lead people to think he’s not competitive, “but I think the record speaks for itself”. 

One of Jimmy’s most stand out qualities is his commitment to people and his willingness to go beyond the call of duty to help trainees, Luke says.  

“He naturally provides pastoral care for the trainees he’s responsible for. They confide in him,” says Luke, adding that Jimmy is a master at identifying trainees who lack confidence.  

“He has a magical way of building it up for them. He will go over and above to ensure the perceived weaker ones are up to speed.” 

Luke says Jimmy has managed to get some trainees qualified who would have failed with other coaches.  

“Most [of Jimmy’s trainees] have gone on to very successful careers as line mechanics.” 

Jimmy started his own career with the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board in 1990. Since then, he has worked on many major energy infrastructure projects in challenging physical environments around Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, which have given him what Luke describes as a “unique and comprehensive skill set”. 

Luke says Jimmy is consulted extensively within Unison by both field staff and senior management. The industry is forever evolving, Luke explains, and Jimmy keeps up with it all and acts as a pragmatic sounding board when adapting to change. 

The Connexis Industry Excellence Awards are a recognition of the hard work, dedication and expertise it takes to succeed in the industry. They will be held online on Monday 6 December from 7pm. They will include a keynote speech by Minister for Infrastructure and Deputy Prime Minister Hon Grant Robertson and will be hosted by broadcaster Jason Pine.