It’s been a year since WEL Networks’ Narelle Phillips was named Trainee of the Year for New Zealand’s energy and telecommunications industries and the 25 year-old shows no signs of slowing down.
After four years with WEL, Narelle has qualified as an electrical fitter and progressed to a trainee SCADA/communications technician.
It’s not a stereotypical career choice for a woman, with only about two per cent of electrical apprentices in New Zealand female, but Narelle says it appealed to her.
“I saw it as a good career option. The idea of having no student loan and being paid to learn really caught my eye. The theory and practical learning appealed to me as well.”
Narelle is a minority in the field at WEL, but says working in a male-dominated industry isn’t a big deal.
“It’s entertaining. I find the guys funny to have a yarn or laugh with. I’ve developed some really good friendships at WEL.”
The former Hamilton Girls High School student admits she knew nothing about electricity before signing up for her apprenticeship and encourages other young women to consider it as a career.
“Don’t be nervous or afraid because it’s a male-dominated industry. Go for it.”
Narelle’s current role involves maintaining the control boxes on the power poles – something she says there is lots to like about, even the heights.
“There are so many different things I like about my work - I love that it’s hands on, that there is always a variety of work, and I especially love being up the ladder.”
As she develops in her career, Narelle is enjoying being given more responsibility with jobs and being exposed to learning more technical processes. She is currently completing her Diploma in Electronics (Level 6), after which she is considering going for a power technician qualification.
She credits WEL for giving her the opportunities to help further her career.
“It’s a great company to work for and a great environment to work in – I’m really grateful to be here.”