“Being a tradeswoman is not an easy job. I am a woman performing tasks that were done by men for a long time. So instead of trying to beat men, I work alongside them so we collectively achieve our team targets.”
These were 33-year-old Patricia Olen’s words, who currently works as a Programmable Logic Control (PLC) Electrician with Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML).
Patricia joined OTML through the Company’s Apprenticeship Training Program in 2011 after completing her Diploma in Electrical Technology at the Don Bosco Technological Institute in Port Moresby. In 2015 after completing her training program, Patricia found herself back at home after OTML operations were impacted by the El Nino-induced drought and some staff including trainees had to be sent home. However, in 2016, having had a stint with OTML previously through her training, Patricia re-joined OTML after applying for her current job at OTML’s Power Service Department.
Patricia’s role includes maintaining the hydropower service’s equipment where she conducts preventative maintenance inspections, service and repairs on the equipment, attends to breakdowns, and ensures equipment availability at all times. Her team also does the inspection and servicing of standby generators around the site.
“I didn’t know electrical technology involved more than just my fascination for lights. I was drawn to lights and how they came in a myriad of colors,” Patricia said.
Tabubil has always had a tradition of decorating houses in the town during Christmas and it was a grand time for Patricia as she loved viewing the sight of so many mesmerizing colored lights that literally transported her to many-a-fantasy worlds.
Patricia was born and raised in Tabubil as her parents were employed with the Company. Her mum worked as a purchasing officer at the Supply Department and later on with the ICT Department. Her dad worked at the Finance and Marketing Department and later on joined the Ok Tedi Savings and Loans Society, currently the Mining and Petroleum Savings and Loans Society Limited.
Along with her three siblings, Patricia started her primary education at the Tabubil International School completing Grades 1 to 6. She then moved to the Coronation College in Lae to complete her Grades 7 and 8 and finally completed her upper secondary education at Cameron Secondary in Milne Bay Province where she is originally from.
Patricia said, “I am indebted to Ok Tedi as the Company more or less supported my parents to educate me and my siblings to an exceptional level, ensuring we secured jobs after completing our schooling.”
“I am also blessed and privileged to have completed my apprenticeship training and transition into a working environment here with Ok Tedi because I honestly don’t know how I would have fared had I joined another company,” she added.
Patricia accorded her successful learning journey and growth to OTML’s training programs, great systems, policies and the team support and camaraderie she shares with her teammates apart from the support she gets from her family.
According to OTML’s Vision 2025, the Company aims to have 20% of female representation in the workforce by 2025 as well as to have 25% representation of women leaders throughout the business.
The Company’s People Strategy includes gender diversity as one of its focus areas and has initiatives, programs and facilities in place to achieve these targets.
Since 2021 OTML has invested K127.9 Million on the education and training of graduates, apprentices, trade trainees, schools and university scholarships of which women candidates are a part of.
Patricia has come a long way from being an apprentice, having learned a lot, and experienced many wins and challenges but is immensely thankful for doing what she loves doing in her role. She is also humbled knowing that she still has room for improvement and further growth in her career going forward.
“I have learnt so much from everyone at OTML including my trainers, and supervisors that supported me during my apprenticeship program, and my current colleagues and team. I appreciate all their input in my personal and professional development.
“There are days when it takes longer to fix equipment or complete tasks but every accomplishment evokes tears of joy for me. I tell people all the time that I want to be great, not just good, but great; and in time I know I will be,” she said.
“I am not telling my story to inspire you to follow my career path. I am simply telling you to follow your own dreams, do what inspires you whether it is in Science or the Arts, but do it to the best of your ability. Every day may not be smooth sailing, but you have an opportunity to do better than what you did yesterday and that is all that should matter to you!
“Look at me, I did not have an idol, I simply adored lights and their magical connotations! And I made sure I found out what made those lights magical!”