Tracey Anderson pictured in protective googles and helmet on work-site

When asked for her advice to women looking to enter male-dominated fields like transmission and distribution, Ventia's Tracey Anderson says, "you just have to get in and do the work." 

Tracey joined Thiess, prior to the formation of Ventia, as a Trade Assistant seven years ago. Since then, her mantra has been to "have drive, show confidence and a willingness to learn."

Tracey's career journey

Having spent time as a photographer followed by a period of overseas travel, Tracey had decided it was time to pursue the trade she'd been considering since she was a young teen, growing up surrounded by a lot of strong male influences, and working on cars with her dad. 

"My father was always good with his hands, and would have a go at anything," Tracey says. If he didn't know how to do something, he'd learn, I rebuilt my first car with him, and that really inspired me to look for a career where I could be on the tools."

When a round of apprenticeship applications opened up, Tracey applied, undertaking physical and aptitude tests and a round of interviews. She was one of three apprentices hired in that round, and the first female. 

"I have definitely got used to being the only female in a crew," Tracey notes. "But the guys don't treat me any differently as long as I do the work. You definitely can't be shy, and you have to be willing to get in and get your hands dirty."

Tracey has since completed her four-year apprenticeship and received her Certificate 4 in Distribution Electrical Line Worker. She's a member of Ventia's Transmission and Distribution team based in Brisbane, mostly working with Energy Queensland (which includes Ergon and Energex). 

Tracey is assigned to a crew of five and as they often work as far away as Kingaroy, three hours north west of Brisbane, she says the crew becomes a little like your extended family.

"We drive to site on Monday morning and we're up there working until Friday, when we head back home," Tracey explains. "When you're travelling together and staying on site together, you really get to know each other, and it builds a very trusting relationship which translates well into the workplace." 

The work we do requires a huge focus on safety and trusting your workmates to take responsibility for their safety and yours is key.

Safety on the job

Michael Percival, SEQ Operations Manager for the T&D team says every job involves several of Ventia's Critical Risk Protocols (CRPs), so the whole team are very aware of considering the tasks they will undertake with reference to the CRPs. 

"Two of the key CRPs we are focused on are Working at Heights and Working Around Live Services," Michael says. 

"To ensure our safety and that of the public we implement control measures including site specific risk assessments, establishment of safe drop zones, electrical isolation of the work area and issuing of permits to access, and ensuring everyone treats assets as energised until they are tested and confirmed as de-energised prior to touching." 

Tracey Anderson pictured working at height

Determination drives success

Tracey and the rest of the crew mostly perform maintenance work, replacing old power poles for Energy Queensland. Jobs include reconductoring (replacing wires), installing new transformers and switches, and replacing or transferring all the services down to customers' houses. 

"It depends how many overhead circuits and customer services there are, and whether we're installing a transformer or switch as to how complex the job ends up being," Tracey says. "No matter what the job entails, it must be completed and power returned to customers within the notified power interruption times. Keeping in mind safety above all else - we work with whatever challenges the job throws at you to get it done, and done safely."

Tracey says that she enjoys the planning of a job, working in a crew and being outdoors. "Every day we are somewhere new and no job or day is exactly the same."

Tracey has learned over the years that you need to be determined, not fear rejection, and be willing to listen and absorb as much as you can from others.

When you're applying for roles where there are a lot of applicants and not many jobs, you need to stand out. But if you can demonstrate your commitment and drive, that will get you a long way.

Once you're in a job that you love, "It feels good to stand back at the end of the day and see what you've achieved."