This time last year Brodie Henry was preparing to finish school, weighing up her career options. She had some childcare experience so that was an option, but when she attended a Girls with Hi-Vis®(GWHV) event at Downer Gisborne, it opened her eyes to new possibilities – and reawakened a childhood dream. “I’ve wanted to be a truck driver since I was about five.”
After GWHV, Brodie wanted to gain work experience in the civil industry with Downer Gisborne. The company then funded Brodie to get her restricted driver’s license and, while she was still at school, arranged for her to work one day a week at the Downer Waerenga-o-kauri Quarry, west of Gisborne as a quarry apprentice operator.
Since January Brodie has been with Downer Gisborne full-time, working on the crusher at Waerenga-o-kauri Quarry breaking down material into gravel that will be used on work sites around the region, including those damaged in Cyclone Gabrielle.
At the GWHV event in 2022 through her school Gisborne Girls High, Brodie appreciated seeing other women operators at work within Downer. It also made her appreciate the wide variety of work Downer undertakes and all the different types of jobs within the company.
“One of the things I learned at that event was that Downer is a lot more than traffic management, which is the part of the work that you mostly see.
“I would suggest to other girls who aren’t sure what they might want to do for a job, go to a Girls with Hi-Vis event, if you get the chance. You’ll get a lot out of the day, trying different skills you didn’t realise were options.
“This work really isn’t just for the males.”
One of the people Brodie met at last year’s Downer Gisborne GWHV event was Tayla Te Hau who is now mentoring Brodie in her work at Downer Waerenga-o-kauri Quarry, particularly in aspects of working in a male-dominant team.
“There are still some people who think I can’t do the job just because I’m not male, but I just show them I can by doing it. And if I need help I will ask for it.”
Downer provides several programs from youth programs, new career pathways to leadership programs. Brodie recently completed Te Rito which is a career readiness program to gain skills and qualifications to successfully transition into a fulltime position with Downer. This is a marae and classroom-based program, which connects all young Downer female employees around the country, so they are supported and connected with other women to share their experiences.
For Brodie her focus has been on getting up to speed on the crusher and Moxy trucks, getting her licenses and simply enjoying the job. “I love that it’s hands-on and every day is different.”