HVAC Apprentice at Grosvenor Engineering Group
Tamara Lloyd has always been fascinated with fixing things. After starting in the office at GEG, she saw an opportunity for a more hands-on role and hasn’t looked back.
“I’d done a Certificate III in Administration and was working for a small airconditioning company in Jindabyne, New South Wales, but my partner and I wanted to move to Canberra for more opportunities,” Tamara explains.
“So, I applied for a Work Coordinator office position at Grosvenor and was in that role for eight months before going into the apprenticeship.”
“I’m a very hands-on person. My dad taught me how to fix things – for instance, if I had a flat tyre, I wouldn’t call the NRMA, I’d change it and go buy a new one, things like that.
You just feel very accomplished when you fix things, you know? The satisfaction of being able to diagnose something and knowing that you did it all by yourself is pretty rewarding. So that pushed me to look for a more hands-on role rather than stay in admin”.
“I’m halfway through my third year, and it’s a four-year apprenticeship, so I go to school one day a week and then I work at GEG the other days.
“As an apprentice, you’re always working with someone, so in the first year, a lot of it is watching what the Techs are doing so you understand how they fix things – especially for me, as I didn’t have much background on the tools, I did a lot of watching.
“Coming into the end of my apprenticeship, I’m now much more hands-on. So a typical day for me involves coordinating my jobs, attending sites and completing maintenance checks.
“Working in commercial buildings means I come across everything from big air-handling units, to normal split-systems. I note down anything irregular, and if something’s broken, I get a price on the replacement and do up a quote. I also complete any required paperwork for the customer and myself – customer service is a big part of the job – and ensure everything is operating prior to leaving the site. And then I still help the other Techs out when required.”
“In the Canberra branch, all the Techs are male, and even in class, I think that when I first started, the teachers were so stoked because they hadn’t had a female student go through in eight years. But I do know that there are three first-years at the moment who are female. So that’s really good – I would’ve loved to have another girl go through with me.
“There’s also a female teacher and she’s the gem. She came up to me straight away and she’s the best support person you’ll ever meet. She’s like ‘Ride or die, you are getting through this – you come to me for anything!’
“The teachers will sometimes say ‘Guys, come on’. And then they’ll go, ‘Oh, sorry, Tamara. Everybody just quiet down.’ … But males have been around doing this forever. I don’t think anyone purposely does it… So, for our generation coming up, we’ll probably have a different perspective.”
“They’re really good. At the start of my apprenticeship, it was hard for me because I hadn’t seen half the stuff – there are so many different categories within HVAC. But you’ve just got to pull your finger out and, if you put the time in, you’ll get it in the end. I try to do at least an hour to an hour-and-a-half of study every afternoon.
“You do hear about apprentices getting treated a bit poorly in the workplace, but I think I definitely hit the jackpot with the boys at GEG… They’re very understanding.”
“I’d like to be a team leader, I think that would be a really good thing, just to be able to manage all the males and have that relationship with them. I do have an admin background, so I’d like to utilise those skills as well as being on the tools. That, and project management. I’m very happy at GEG – they’re very welcoming and supportive of exploring opportunities. So I don’t see myself moving anytime soon.”
“If you’re thinking about doing it, just do it. The studying part of it, it’s not forever. You get your ticket and then the door’s open to you. It’s the best feeling fixing things too, to be able to say ‘I built that.’ Don’t think twice.”