Age and gender have never stopped Jacinta Dignan reaching her career goals. In fact, since arriving in Tauranga from Australia early last year, the qualified electrician is striding ahead in a male-dominated industry and at 26, is already managing her own rapidly growing business.
Jacinta set up Sure Power in March. The company is a specialist provider of electrical services for residential, commercial and industrial clients, covering the full range of maintenance, repairs, refits and renovations as well as solar design and installation.
Building a profitable business equals ‘success’ in anyone’s books, and especially laudable for someone still in their mid-20s. Jacinta says lots of effort and experience have got her to this point. At 16 she worked as an apprentice to her father for four years and then spent five years getting as much experience as she could in diverse organisations, including a mining company in Central Queensland, and a large electrical company in Perth where she worked on a new hospital and international airport expansion.
“It’s physical work and I love the mental challenge as well,” says Jacinta. “Electrical work is a step by step process and with any new job I quote for, I have to decide the best way to approach it. When I go back to start the job, that process is already drawn in my head. You can only see that if you have the experience.”
Her 10 years of experience have prepared her to handle any new situation and she’s well regarded in the industry. When she’s working on a building site it’s not uncommon for blokes to ask her advice.
“Some people put me in a box because it’s seen as a man’s job and sometimes you get remarks. I ignore it and make it known I don’t tolerate that. On a big subcontracting job I build confidence with the other tradies in a few days.”
Jacinta also gets a positive reaction from residential clients, especially from her growing list of women clients who are “pumped” to see her get in and have a go. She encourages other women to consider this line of work, and says women make excellent electricians.
“Women are focused and methodical, safety conscious, and motivated to get things done. Electrical work needs all these things because you need to be able to clearly plan a path and follow it. Nothing can be rushed.
“If it helps other women, I want to be that inspiration when they second-guess themselves. At the beginning everything feels hard, but in time your body becomes stronger and you become mentally stronger too.”
Jacinta says the growing industry offers good opportunities to make money and Kiwi electricians are highly regarded. New Zealand and Australia have the highest standards and practices so qualified electricians can take their skills anywhere in the world.