Flicking on a light switch or plugging in a hair dryer, when you think about it, they’re daily tasks which aren’t given a second thought. But, for Eva Fernandez-Morente, the thought of being near electricity meant second-guessing herself became second-nature. “Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have thought about becoming an electrician,” she says, “because deep-down I’m afraid of electricity. When I was young, I became stuck to a live power socket for about a minute, then it threw me three metres across the room.”
The 32-year-old, who moved to New Zealand from the Philippines 13 years ago, says up until a few years ago, just the mention of electricity would send a shiver down her spine. But, the determination to overcome her fear and be a role model for her daughter, saw Eva embrace an electrical career. She adds, “I did my bachelor’s degree in business and banking, but I realised that sitting in an office all day didn’t motivate me. My brain was working, but the rest of my body wasn’t.” So, she signed up to study electrical engineering through Skills, and set her life on a different path. “Working in the electrical trade means I’m out there on the tools, both my brain and body are active.”
Standing at just over 5ft, Eva may be short in stature, but she’s tall in heart, “whatever a man can do, I can do,” she says, laughing. With less than a year to run in her apprenticeship, and only a hand-full of on-jobs to complete through Auckland’s French Electrical, Eva is well on her way to a successful career. “One day I want to be an electrical inspector,” she adds. But, that dream wouldn’t have been possible without the help of her partner, Geoffrey.
Eva says with a smile, “Geoffrey is an electrician at French Electrical too.” They’re a dynamic partnership, both at home and work, “we talk about electrical jobs at home, and help each other overcome problems,” she explains. With Geoffrey’s help, Eva has put the shocking childhood incident behind her, and embraced her trade. She’s the only woman of the fifteen apprentices, but not-in-the-least bit fearful of stamping her mark on the job. She laughs, “at work, you need a girl to calm things down. And, if they slack off, I tell them, do some work.” The next hurdle for Eva to overcome is her regulation exam, with the prospect of being “a registered electrician by June,” she says.
Fear couldn’t derail Eva’s career aspirations, “once I started getting into the trade, I thought, I’m stronger than that incident.” And, with her focus now firmly on finishing her studies, Eva has a clear message for women who are umming and ahing about an electrical career. “They should just do it,” she says. “If I can do it, they can do it. It’s the best job in the world.”