Handling, maintaining and repairing high voltages of up to 11,000 requires exceptional skill, unwavering determination, and a deep sense of responsibility. Ruth Wambui Kamau, a 38-year-old electrical engineer, fearlessly embraces the challenges and risks associated with her role as a Live Line Technician at Kenya Power.
In this article, WoK takes a look into her remarkable journey, the hurdles she overcame, and her aspirations for empowering women in the electrical industry.
Finding Her Path
Ruth’s journey began in 2011 when she enrolled at the Institute of Energy Studies and Research (IESR) in Ruaraka. Eager to pursue her passion, she embarked on a diploma course in Electrical and Electronics Crafts.
In 2015, Ruth joined Kenya Power as a craftsman in electrical plant operations in Industrial Area, where she gained invaluable experience in distributing and repairing transformers and detecting electrical faults.
A Desire for Growth
As Ruth familiarized herself with the electrical industry, an internal job opportunity in 2018 caught her attention—the position of a Live Line Technician.
Driven by her unwavering passion and readiness to embrace new experiences, she seized the opportunity and applied for the role.
Ruth’s dedication and determination impressed the selection panel, and she was chosen for the position. Following a rigorous three-month training program, Ruth found herself in her dream job, responsible for maintaining live power networks while ensuring uninterrupted services for customers.
Realizing the Childhood Dream
Ruth’s fascination with electrical work originated in her childhood. Growing up in a village, she would observe Kenya Power electricians in their reflector jackets and overalls establishing power connections and with their dedication seemed to create magic.
This left a lasting impression on her young mind. Despite initial and understandable concerns from her mother about the risks involved, Ruth’s unwavering determination, supported by prayers and financial assistance, fueled her pursuit of her childhood dream.
Live Line Technician Responsibilities and Risks
As a Live Line Technician, the electrical engineer handles energized conductors and electrical equipment, performing network maintenance without interrupting the power supply. With voltages reaching up to 11,000, the risks involved are significant and demand utmost caution.
Faults can cause flush lights, which, if proper protection is not in place, can lead to severe burns and other potential injuries. Environmental hazards, such as disturbing bee hives while working on transformers, also pose risks that require constant vigilance.
On Ensuring Safety
Ruth places paramount importance on personal protective equipment (PPEs) to safeguard herself while working with high voltages.
She diligently ensures that she wears gloves and thoroughly inspects, tests, and approves her long-sleeved clothing for maximum protection.
These safety measures are crucial for mitigating potential dangers in her line of work and ensuring her well-being.
Overcoming Gender Barriers
Despite working in what is a traditionally male-dominated industry, Ruth has been fortunate to experience an excellent work environment with supportive male colleagues. Gender has never been a barrier for her, as her male counterparts have embraced her skills, dedication, and expertise.
In fact, they have become strong allies and advocates, constantly encouraging her to excel in her field. Ruth’s passion for her job and her commitment to delivering outstanding results have earned her the respect and recognition of her peers.
Ruth’s Achievements and Future Aspirations
While Ruth acknowledges that she has more to achieve, she remains determined to make significant contributions to the electrical industry.
Currently pursuing a higher diploma course at the esteemed WEBS Institute, she seeks to further enhance her skills and knowledge through specialized training abroad.
Her ultimate goal is to revolutionize KPLC’s service provision by introducing innovative solutions and technologies that will enhance efficiency and competitiveness, enabling the company to excel and even compete on a global scale.
Individually, Ruth’s entrepreneurial spirit extends beyond her professional career, as she envisions establishing her own electrical company upon retirement.
Advice and Lessons Learned
Passionate about empowering aspiring female electricians, Ruth actively shares her inspiring life journey to motivate those who may face discouragement.
She emphasizes the importance of courage, focus, and unwavering determination in achieving one’s dreams. Ruth urges young women in the field to cultivate patience and dispel the notion of overnight success.
Through her experiences, she has learned that the journey itself is invaluable, and it is through perseverance and continuous learning that one can truly thrive.
Moreover, Ruth has realized the significance of treating all colleagues with respect, regardless of their positions, as junior staff members may one day become influential leaders.