No trade? No worries. Jump-start your career in energy

March 20, 2024
Career in energy

As many people who’ve built their careers in energy can attest, it’s a sector rich with career growth opportunities, training and development pathways, job security, diverse work environments, innovation, social impact, and more.

Perhaps these benefits pique your curiosity, or you’re motivated to pivot into the energy industry… but what if you don’t have a trade background or technical engineering skills to take the leap? As it turns out, these may not be a prerequisite.

Elizabeth Walker promotes the value of transferable skills to make your start. As Leader Transmission and Substations Field Operations for TasNetworks, she manages a trade-based team, without having a technical trade background herself.

Career in energy

“I love supporting my team to grow and succeed in their careers, and it’s a privilege to live in such a beautiful part of the world. Our Transmission Network is located in some of the most beautiful parts of Tasmania, so we get to travel the state and see spectacular sites.”

We spoke with Elizabeth to learn about her career and leadership journey, what it’s like working in the beautiful state of Tasmania, and the different pathways people can take to enter the industry.

From a hot climate to a cool one 

Elizabeth grew up in Queensland, developing her career in construction, transmission, telecoms, and water management. This eventually led to her natural transition into energy, as a contract project manager – a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) role with Aurora Energy in Tasmania. The cool climate was a welcome adjustment! 

Career in energy

“Despite growing up in the Sunshine State, I’m really more of a winter person. Working in Tasmania was the start of a love affair. I fell in love with the pace of life and nature, which was completely different to Queensland. When I knocked off at 4.30pm after a good day’s work, daylight savings meant I had more free space and time to enjoy until sunset.” 

She continued to grow in her role as project manager, managing contractual rollouts for Aurora Energy and working with wind farm proponents and generation connection requests. 

“After my time in the Transmission customer negation team I moved into leading the major projects team, responsible for managing projects for large substation and Transmission line upgrades. What excited me most was learning more about the industry and how exciting it can be, with so much growth in renewable generations. 

“The future looks bright in supplying more solar and wind energy to customers. Ever since then, I’ve known energy is the right industry for me. And I knew I wanted to live and work in Tasmania.” 

A quick Google search revealing that the state receives snowfall sealed the deal. So, Elizabeth put her hand up for a permanent role with TasNetworks.  

“I was drawn to working with a state-wide team. I also expected I’d get to enjoy a metre of snow every day – that’s obviously not what happened,” she laughs. “But since moving here more than a decade ago, I’ve loved the cold weather and discovered a passion for exploring the state.” 

From contracting to full-time work

Now, working for TasNetworks in a full-time role, Elizabeth leads a trade-based team. Not having a trade background doesn’t impact her, as the biggest part of her role is people leadership. 

“As a leader, I see my role as a facilitator for team culture and growth, as well as delivery. My key functions are influencing change rollouts, setting my team up for success to deliver on business expectations, and supporting their career progression.”

Along with supportive leadership, the company’s focus on training and development is an important part of this. 

Career in energy

“Our training budgets are very generous. I’ve completed my Certificate IV in leadership and safety management courses, which have helped me instrumentally. If I identify a gap, I know that the business will support me to bridge it, above and beyond the consistent, every day support we receive.”  

TasNetworks also offers a coaching and mentoring program that Elizabeth is part of, both offering and receiving mentorship. 

“I mentor people throughout the business and have my own mentor from the senior leadership team. It’s something that’s part of our culture and we’re all very passionate about it. It may not suit everyone, so it’s an opt-in benefit. But it’s so valuable, particularly during periods of change.” 

TasNetworks be a workplace that works for you? 

Check out their employee benefits to find out.

How can others use transferable skills to enter the industry? 

Elizabeth’s career journey is just one example of how people can use transferable skills to jump-start their careers in energy. But, she clarifies, it doesn’t matter if you’ve worked in retail, or hospitality, or never had a job before. 

“It really doesn’t matter! TasNetworks has roles and pathways for everyone. If you’re starting brand new, we have apprenticeships. If you have an accounting background, we have roles in finance. The company truly supports people with upskilling and training.

“To put this in perspective, I’m not an outlier. Even within my leadership team, we have a mix of people from trade and non-trade backgrounds, with a variety of transferable skills.” 

Plus, she shares, that no matter where you start, there are many opportunities to keep your career interesting within the business as well. 

west coast walk photo

“We have roles in customer negotiations, transmission, finance, telco, people and culture – the list goes on. Having commercial knowledge can certainly work in your favor; not just financial skills, but decision-making skills that are best for the business and customers. These skills, along with business development, communication, relationship-building, and sales skills are all highly transferable.” 

On this note, she adds, why not consider a leadership position? 

“Don’t underestimate your ability to apply for a leadership role too. You may already be a leader – whether that be as a soccer coach for your children’s team, or as a ‘leader’ in your role, without the formal title. This experience is really valuable and can make you an ideal match for a leadership opportunity in various sectors.” 

What can people expect in everyday work? 

Like many industries, there are some preconceptions about working in energy – some myths, and some facts. One is that you need physical strength and fitness for trade roles to do heavy lifting. 

“Our industry has removed many of these physical aspects. No matter your gender, we all know heavy lifting isn’t beneficial for your health – so we don’t want people lifting heavy things or risking these injuries.” 

Another preconception is that working in energy involves venturing to remote areas and climbing towers solo. 

“Yes, climbing towers is an aspect of some roles – but no matter what work you’re doing, you’re always in a team environment and have support from a leader. Every day looks different, no matter your role.” 

And, if you’re wondering about workplace culture, Elizabeth shares her thoughts on work-life balance and diversity at TasNetworks

“I value my personal time and ability to balance my career with my personal life. While there are always ebbs and flows when things get busy, TasNetworks absolutely supports and values your ability to have a life outside work. The business is also passionate about supporting and celebrating diversity too. It knows diversity in thought, leads to great efficiencies, and creates a better business.” 

Her parting thoughts? Take a leap of faith! 

TasNetworks and the wider energy sector offer great avenues to be part of a team environment, enjoy interesting work, and deliver an essential service to customers. 

“We’re finding new ways to develop what we bring to customers, how we listen to them, and deliver great service in electricity supply while bringing down costs to provide cost-of-living support. 

“Overall, it’s a really exciting time to be part of this incredible sector.”

Want to learn more about the benefits of a career at TasNetworks?

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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