A day in the life of an Earthmoving Mechanic
Charmaine is an earthmoving equipment mechanic for our Equipment business. She is responsible for the diagnosis and repair of Volvo Construction Equipment including loaders, excavators, dump trucks and TLBs. Charmaine repairs components such as engines, drive axles, dropboxes and hydraulic and manual transmissions. We asked Charmaine to tell us what it's like working in a male dominated industry.
What’s the best thing about your job?
As a mechanical engineer I get to encounter a diverse range of challenges and experiences every day. This suits me as I am not one for stale normality.
Did you always know what you wanted to do in your career?
If someone had told me a few years ago that I was going to be a mechanical engineer I would have laughed. At school I enjoyed biology, so everyone was expecting me to study medicine. However, a few years into high school I became very interested in science and engineering projects. I did extremely well and even competed on a national level. My father then suggested I consider a career in mechanical engineering.
How did you get here?
After matric I enrolled in technical college to study mechanical engineering. Just as I completed my N5 I was accepted into Babcock’s apprenticeship programme. This is where the real learning and exposure began, taking me to where I am today.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
Qualifying as an earthmoving equipment mechanic, something not many women have achieved.
Have you experienced any challenges in your career due to being female?
As a female mechanical engineer you have to work twice as hard at proving yourself to be physically and mentally capable of carrying out the same tasks as your male counterparts. Men instinctively offer to lift or fix something for you, simply because you’re a woman. I’m not one to sit back and watch so that outlook took some effort to change. The ratio of male to female mechanical engineers isn’t going to change overnight so it’s important for us to recognise and embrace our uniqueness.
Most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
I’ve learnt that survival and success are not related to strength or fitness levels. Although my role is physically demanding, just being strong doesn’t make you good at your job. You also need to strengthen your level of understanding if you want to achieve success.
Is there something about you that others might find surprising?
I model in my spare time, an interest not typically associated with mechanical engineers.