Monday, December 12, 2011

Skills Work!® for Women – Anne Giardini, Red Seal General Machinist

In the mid-1990s, many companies were downsizing and employees in a variety of jobs and sectors were panicking over job security.  This economic climate entered into Anne Giardini’s life in 1995, when she was an administrative assistant at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).  Instead of waiting to be downsized, Anne entered a tool & die apprenticeship within the organization.  And with a what-have-I-got-to-lose attitude, Anne’s career path took a sharp 90-degree turn.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Once she was certified as a General Machinist, Anne was promoted to Project Leader after only five years on the shop floor.  In addition to her machining duties, that makes Anne also responsible for project assessment, ordering materials and meeting inspection requirements.  One of her current projects at AECL involves manufacturing control rod magnet assembles for the research reactor.   The project involves creating and overseeing work from her own shop, as well as work contracted out to four other shops. 

Anne was fortunate to enter the trades when she did.  For one thing, she found that even once she was certified in her trade, having a clerical background with computer experience was extremely helpful.  For another, she found that having some career experience enabled her to have a more positive attitude.  “I knew that I would get resistance from some of the guys, but since I started my career later in life, my maturity and life experiences were a definite asset.”  Still today, Anne loves her work for its variety and hands-on nature.

It’s difficult to find someone with more enthusiasm about women in skilled trades than Anne.  She has been a dedicated mentor at the “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinners and Young Women’s Conferences for several years.  She is also an active member of Women in Nuclear, a global organization that connects women working within the nuclear power field.  Her role as Deputy Mayor for the Town of Laurentian Hills probably doesn’t hurt her efforts either!

Anne’s basic message to young women boils down to this:  “It is definitely a good career option.  The money is good and many times you get to be your own boss.  There is a great network of women who will give support, so take advantage of it.”

Anne was a mentor at the November 16th “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner in Pembroke.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Skills Work!® On The Road – Far North Region

Promoting skilled trades and inspiring young women

Welders and hairstylists and structural technicians, oh my!  These were just some of the amazing careers that were represented by women at the 2011-2012 “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Young women came from as far away as Marathon (3 hours away) to join in an evening of mingling, laughing, learning and sharing with other students and with women who work in the skilled trades and technologies.

Let me first back up a couple of years and tell you about my first encounter with the “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner.  In 2008, a friend had told me about this wonderful event where I could come out and represent women who work within the Technology sector (an area I was currently working in and had been for about 5 years).  I jumped at the chance to be able to share my stories, knowledge and maybe even change one young woman’s life.  The thought that I had the power to help build confidence in young women was something I always strived for, and continue to, to this day.  All young women need to know that anything they want is within their reach and to never let gender barriers affect who they are and who they want to become.

Now, fast forward to 2011 where, after 2 years of being a mentor to young women at the “Skills Work!® for Women” Networking Dinner, I am now facilitating them as a member of the Skills Canada-Ontario staff.

The most recent Networking Dinner I facilitated was in Thunder Bay on November 17th.  It has been different working outside of the mentor role at these events, but it is still equally as invigorating to know the difference that I am able to make to these young women by bringing them together with so many other wonderful mentors from our community.  Having spent those couple of years as a mentor, I was all the more eager to find any and all women who work within the skilled trades and technology industries, because I know firsthand, the amazing affect it can have on the young women and how valuable this experience is for everyone involved.

With a fantastic group of young women from the area and excited and dynamic mentors from throughout Thunder Bay the event was a wonderful success.  Women from all sectors; industrial, construction, motive power, service and technology were all very well represented.  This gave the young women a rare, firsthand opportunity to hear the stories of these women and find out what life truly is like for them in their non-traditional roles.

The event was filled with empowerment and inspiration.  The best word for this event is “special.”  It was truly special and so enlightening to watch these young women have an event to feel and realize that THEY are special and they really can achieve anything they want.  The girls left with new friends, a newfound confidence and lasting memories.  I am so grateful that we at Skills Canada – Ontario are able to help these young women realize their potential and see the world in a different light.

Jessica Murphy, Liaison Officer
Far North Region