If there is one tradeswoman who I’ve been encouraged and inspired by through my journey as a plumber and blogger, it would be Brisbane’s Plumbing Inspector (and now investigator!), Carlie Low.
The night I received my award at the Construction Skills QLD awards, Carlie found me to congratulate me on my win and I’ve always remembered how supportive she was of me as I worked alongside my dad.
It’s only been in recent years that our paths have collided, through connection on social media (and my blog) and catching up at various plumbing events.
I, of course was thrilled to see Carlie receive the Queensland Building and Construction Commission’s Women in Plumbing and Gas Award at the 2016 Plumbing and Gas Industry Awards back in July.
Carlie is adamant about encouraging women to get into a trade and her career success has paved a way for other women to follow in her footsteps. I was able to get Carlie to share with me a bit about herself and her story to encourage you, wherever you are on your trade journey (or wherever you are in your own life journey).
Why did you decide to do a plumbing apprenticeship?
To be honest I have no idea why. I always remember that I wanted to be in the tourism industry or become a mechanic. I actually carried out a school based apprenticeship as I was over school, but I knew I still needed to get a Year 12 certificate in case plumbing never worked out. Thankfully it did.
What were some challenges with working in a male dominant industry?
To be honest it had it’s challenges that’s for sure but I don’t ever really remember them when I look back now (Can I still blame baby brains although my youngest is 2 1/2)! I used the challenges to make me stronger. Maybe that’s what made me so determined to keep on going.
Has anyone inspired you while you did your apprenticeship?
No one really inspired me throughout my apprenticeship or should I maybe say my father. His dedication to his family run business and giving 110% to his clients made it all more rewarding and worthwhile. His passion for plumbing and protecting the community is why I was so drawn in also to do plumbing as a trade.
Where do you work in the plumbing industry now and how did you get to your current position?
I work for local government (Brisbane City Council) as a Plumbing Inspector/Investigator. I actually won an award after my apprenticeship and a few months after the awards ceremony I was contacted via a Plumbing Inspector asking if he could pass my details onto the Chief Plumbing Manager at the time and after an interview, my new career path started.
What are the challenges of being a plumbing inspector and how do you handle them?
When I first started, it was a combination of being a female and being so young so I just had to prove that I could do my job just as good as the males, if not better. I don’t really face too many challenges now – well ones that I would classify as a challenge.
How did you manage being pregnant and a plumbing inspector and how do you manage being a mum and working full time?
Being pregnant and carrying out my role as a Plumbing Inspector was quite good. From about 6 months (pregnant) I was made office based as the risk carrying out inspections on construction sites could never be determined via a computer so if something happened to have gone wrong, the council did not want to be put in that situation.
So being a mum and working full time isn’t the ideal life for some but it works for me. I have been doing it since my eldest child was 7mths and my youngest child who was 8mths. It can surely take it’s toll but you just have to adjust to fit your lifestyle I guess. What might be a breeze for me may not be for someone else.
What does a typical day look like for you?
5.00am – 5.30am Get up, 6.30am Drop kids at kindy, 7.00am Start work, 6.00pm Arrive home, 6.15pm Get kids ready for bed and have dinner, 7.00pm Kids head to their rooms for a story book, 8.00pm Tidy house up (Dishes/Floors/Washing ect), 8.30pm – 10.00pm Start work on my part time job (Helping others with their Health & Wellness).
Why should women consider plumbing (or any trade) as a career?
Why shouldn’t they consider it? It is by far one of the most rewarding industries I say.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love to spend quality time with my little family before they grow up.
What other businesses or hobbies do you work on while being an inspector and mum?
I have a huge passion for helping others take control of their health both physically and emotionally. Nothing more rewarding than seeing someone have the most amazing life changing experience not just for them, but a lot of the time for the whole family.
Do you have any encouragement for girls finding it tough to keep working towards their license?
I can’t stress enough to just KEEP ON GOING, no matter what. Every single job, career, hobby, passion has a path like a rollercoaster. It isn’t meant to be smooth sailing the whole time. Treat every challenge as a failure – treat it as learning, and build strength from it. You honestly have nothing to lose and a heap to gain.
See isn’t Carlie a fabulous role model for our industry? There have been many penny dropping moments after I’ve interacted with Carlie. I love her can-do attitude and she is definitely someone I’m inspired by within the industry.
Who inspires you in your trade or industry? Got anything you’d like to tell Carlie? Drop a line in the comments below. 🙂