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Staff Profile: Sarah Rice – Trailblazing Tech
Not many offices involve a mash-up of horns honking, shelves of equipment rattling, and drill bits rolling around the floor, but for CAMACC System’s new field technician Sarah Rice, those are just as normal as a printer and water cooler. To be fair, not many people have an office with four wheels and a 12’ ladder strapped to the top but that (and much, much more) is just part of the job for Sarah. Although not necessarily the job she would have expected…
She makes a mean mojito…and even meaner field tech
By the time she finished high school her sights were set on becoming a police officer; however, the temptation of accents, beaches, and warm tropical weather drew Sarah to go backpacking around Australia after graduation. There she spent two years working in bars, snorkeling and exploring the Land Down Under.
After perfecting her mojito-making skills, Sarah came back home in the hopes of going to school. “My family always wanted me to go into the trades,” says Sarah. “I knew I couldn’t sit behind a desk all day, but I wasn’t convinced that being an electrician was right for me since it’s a lot of cable pulling and wiring. I was worried I would get bored.” Sarah knew that she loved the thrill of solving technical problems and working with computers, which is exactly why she applied to BCIT’s Security Systems Technician (SST) program. As an SST, Sarah gets the best of the electrical and technical worlds.
The SST program at BCIT includes a mandatory four-week work experience practicum, which is how Sarah began her journey at CAMACC.
“I was interested in CAMACC because of the diversity their clients,” says Sarah. “Getting to work in the petroleum, grocery, gaming, and retail sectors means I’ll never do the same thing two days in a row. One day I might be out troubleshooting a broken camera at a grocery store, and the next day I would be installing a DVR on a overnight covert at a gas station. That makes for an exciting job.”
Once Sarah got a taste of the excitement, she was hooked… and so was CAMACC. “We just had to hire her,” says Vancouver Installation Manager Hartley Woloshuk. “After seeing how well she was able to pick up and run with everything we threw at her on her practicum, I knew she fit the CAMACC mold perfectly.”
In March 2015, Sarah became CAMACC’s first female field technician. And once you go CAMACC you never go back.
She’s not just one of the guys; she’s better
Sarah is a trailblazer in the technical trade. “It’s nice to see more women in the trades and it’s cool to be a part of that movement,” says Sarah.
Even two years ago at CAMACC, all field technicians were male. Now, two out of 35 technicians are female. But there is still a long way to go; women represent only 25% of those in the electrical and renewable energy workforce in Canada, and of that 25%, only 5% are in roll-up-the-sleeves trades.
“I thought I was going to be treated differently,” admits Sarah. “I knew people would have doubts about my strength or limitations, but I have no problems keeping up to the guys I work with.”
“I have respect for a woman entering what is sometimes thought to be a man’s field,” says Woloshuk. “Going to construction sites and interacting with men all day can be off-putting for some people.”
Sarah is definitely not one of those people. “To my fellow field techs I’m just one of the guys,” she explains. “I want to inspire young girls to not be intimidated by the fact that the field is male-dominated.”
Screw driver in the left, spatula in the right
Sarah is doing all the right things to progress herself and other women in this field… however if you see her running her own restaurant in the future don’t be surprised.
“My dream is to someday open a bar or restaurant. When I was 10 I tried to convince my mom to buy a bakery so that I could run it… obviously that didn’t work out,” she says.
Not even Sarah knows where she will end up, but for now a hard hat and hi-vis shirt are nothing short of the perfect fit.