Denise is one of TaskHer’s most reliable tradeswomen. We chatted with Denise to learn more about her journey as a female electrician.
Denise started her career as a quantity surveyor for Galliard Homes, but her plans soon changed when a recession hit. ‘I was made redundant,’ she says. ‘Previous to that, I was getting calls from agents left, right, and centre offering me bigger packages.’ Faced with a new challenge, Denise decided to retrain and become a tradeswoman.
When Denise went back to college, she was a single parent with two small children. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but she knew that she had to create a new career for herself. Like most people who enter the trades industry, Denise was unsure about whether she wanted to become a plumber or an electrician. ‘I said to myself, let me do electrical, because it’s maths. I can work towards plumbing later.’
‘When I got into electrics, I loved it. I was very good with maths; I didn’t even realise my skill.’
To achieve her dream of becoming a female electrician, Denise completed Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications. When she was studying she called a local electrician, who employed her for the next two and a half years. ‘I worked for him as a one-man band,’ she says, ‘that’s where you do everything, all the nitty gritty, dirty stuff.’ With this practical approach, Denise aced her course.
A few years in, her boss paired her with another employee who took a hands-on approach to electrics. With Denise’s mathematical skills and his manual experience, they made a fantastic team. Their first project was for a six-bedroom house in Finchley, where Denise discovered a fascination for smart system wiring.
Eventually, Denise and her co-worker began sub-contracting for a local authority. One day, Denise arrived on site and started working. One of the new team members turned to her and said, ‘Are you the electrician?’ He was baffled, but Denise just laughed.
‘I find it amusing in some ways, but obviously, the barriers are frustrating. Some people struggle to understand that female electricians have all the skills and knowledge to do the job.’
The pair continued working for a few years and had a qualified electrician sign off on each project. This led to a light bulb moment for Denise. ‘I thought, why don’t I do it?’, she says. ‘So I registered as an electrician with NICEIC and I went off and did Installation and Testing. I thought, I can do it for someone else, so why not do it for myself?’ Soon after, Denise was a self-employed female electrician who regularly handled installations. She even found time to pursue her passion for smart systems.
Being a self-employed female electrician isn’t without its pitfalls. ‘Sometimes people call and ask to speak to the electrician as if I’m the receptionist,’ she says, but adds that ‘Sometimes customers say, ‘Oh, are you the electrician?’ and when I say yes they go, ‘Oh lovely, it’s nice having a female.’’
Her dedication, hard work, and experience paid off. Now, she has a team of three, which includes an apprentice. Denise divides her time between domestic work for landlords, the occasional commercial project, and jobs for TaskHer.