Alexandra Price

Alexandra Price

Job Title

Engineer – Testing & High Voltage Calibration

Who do you work for?

Energex Limited, the electrical distributor (company which looks after the poles & wires) in South East Queensland.

What does your job involve?

Currently I lead a team of twenty electrical fitter mechanics and power workers. My team supports field staff by ensuring their equipment is fit for use. We regularly inspect and test ladders, pole steps, elevating work platforms (cherry pickers we use to work on overhead lines), gloves, mats, operating sticks and earthing equipment (just to name a few!). We also calibrate high voltage test equipment to ensure that field staff can make accurate measurements.

In my role, I have to read and understand over thirty Australian and international standards in order to do my job effectively. When my team have a question about how we do something, I need to be able to find the answer or know who to ask.

Prior to this role I was a rotational graduate engineer. I spent four years rotating around the business working in transmission planning, concept design, asset management and maintenance, network operations, metering, materials procurement, future network technologies, protection engineering and field test. This rotation program gave me exposure to the vast array of opportunities for power engineers within the business and allowed me to develop friendships and networks with people from around the business.

Why did you choose to work in this sector?

I have always been interested in electricity because I couldn’t see what was happening in the wire. I chose to work in the electricity distribution sector of the energy industry because of the challenges around integration of renewables and battery technologies. These complex challenges need to be solved by young innovative thinkers and I wanted to be part of the solution.

What is the most rewarding part of your current job?

There are so many aspects of my current job that are rewarding. I get to help my team when they come across issues, help the broader Energex field staff delivery our program of work and am constantly learning new things. I really love the combination of practical and theory work in my job; one day I’ll be reading through a standard typing up procedures and the next I’ll be out on site climbing on an elevating work platform to attach a high voltage test lead. Every day is different and I learn something new.

What has been one of your recent achievements?

My most recent achievement was receiving the Engineers Australia Graduate Electrical Power Engineer of the Year Award in 2015 in recognition of my success at work and through my extracurricular activities within the power industry. I constantly strive to learn new things, contribute to my industry and challenge myself to try things outside my comfort zone (my current role is case and point!).

What is the most challenging part of your current job?

The most challenging part of my role is being able to plan and prioritise on the run. I am yet to have a day at work where an unexpected issue or question doesn’t crop up. There is a very large reactive component to my role and being able to recognise whether the issue needs to be dealt with now, whether I can delegate it to someone in my team or put it on the backburner, is paramount. Transitioning from working as a graduate engineer to leading a team of twenty men (some over twice my age) was a little daunting but surprisingly easy. My team have been very understanding, helping me learn the ropes, and we have been able to leverage each other’s knowledge and skills to successfully deliver our work. My mentors, both within and outside the business, have been a valuable sounding board when I have come across new challenges I wasn’t sure how to handle.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I worked overseas in the United Kingdom for seven months on the E.S. Cornwall Scholarship and would love to go overseas and broaden my knowledge of how other countries operate their electricity networks. My ultimate goal is to be a CEO of an electricity network company (if they still exist!) or develop a start up in the renewable energy sector.

What are some of the benefits of your job?

I have been involved with Council on Large Electrical Systems (CIGRE) Australia, the Electric Energy Society of Australia (EESA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), which has given me the opportunity to expand my professional network and develop my leadership skills. Energex have been very supportive of my involvement in these societies.

What training did you have for this job?

Upper secondary school
Maths B, Maths C, Physics, Chemistry, English and Modern History (analytical writing is a very valuable skill). I was also heavily involved in extra-curricular activities such as Future Problem Solving and the International Young Physicists Tournament which further expanded my passion for STEM.

After secondary school
Dual bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering and Science (majoring in Physics and Mathematics). I studied abroad for six months in the United States during my degree which I highly recommend. I undertook a number of Postgraduate Electricity Supply Training Courses (PESTC) through QUT during my graduate program. Currently, I’m working towards a Master of Business Administration part-time.

What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?

Work hard at school but don’t do so at the expense of missing out on opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities. Seriously consider studying engineering at university if you like solving problems. The profession is so broad and there are many opportunities to make a difference.