Two careers connected

When Rebecca Wynne was at school she wanted to become a musician. That might seem far cry from her current role as operations manager, and co-owner, of Wynne Electrical in Warkworth, but there is plenty of wiring connecting the two.

That love of music first led Rebecca into working in arts and theatre, where she found herself working with the behind-the-scenes electrical equipment. That, in turn, led to a job working with a broadcast company in Auckland, setting up and maintaining broadcasting equipment.

When she met her now-husband Lewis Wynne, she decided to work with him in his business, managing accounts before changing direction and training as an electrician. Now, several years later, she is operations manager for the business where she manages a team of five, which includes three female electrical apprentices.

Having several women in the team wasn’t planned Rebecca says, it just happened that some of the best responses to their call for apprentices came from women.

“I think this trade attracts women that don’t want a nine-to-five job. They want to be out there doing something practical. It’s the best thing about being an electrician; no two days are the same. Every day you see something new; new jobs and different problems to solve.

“As a society we are starting to move towards not having specific roles for different genders. You’re seeing a lot more women turn up in places where generally it’s a male dominated industry, which is fantastic.”

Rebecca says she can see differences in how female and male apprentices approach their work differently. “Women in this trend tend to be more cautious. They don’t charge in and do things they don’t understand. They call you up and ask you to explain something to them before they start.”

One of the apprentices at Wynne is Paige Jones, who has almost finished her NZ Certificate in Electrical Trade with EarnLearn. Paige agrees the variety and ability to get out on site are two of the things she loves most about her job.

Block courses have been a highlight of her training with EarnLearn, she says. “They explained things really well, so if I got lost they were really able to help, which was cool.

“I’m pretty confident in most of the day-to-day stuff as well.”

Rebecca says the support Wynne’s apprentices have had through EarnLearn has been excellent, with account managers and tutors making regular contact and available if the team has questions or struggles.

Both Rebecca and Page say while some customers are surprised when a female electrician turns up to the job, they get over their surprise quickly when they see they’re just as competent as male electricians.

“You might get a bit of a query at the start, especially if there’s two of us but once we’re doing the job, and they can see what we’re doing, most leave you to get on with it,” Paige says.

Rebecca says her most important role as operations manager for Wynne is to make sure all her team are fully supported on the job and in their training.

“It’s about giving them the confidence to go out and do the jobs in a safe way, and making sure, when dealing with the clients, they know what we’re talking about.”

A recent professional highlight for Rebecca has been securing her first major contract for the business. “It was a 10 to 20 grand job; a three-phase switchboard upgrade. Just going through that process was really rewarding. Talking to the customer, giving them an estimate and then actually carrying out the work to see the result, which is this beautiful board that was a work of art. That was awesome.”

See Rebecca’s video interview here.


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