In recognition of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the women who are integral to our Company’s operations.
Betty-Ann Caesar: Distribution Systems Operator Specialist and President, Electricity Supply Trade Union
Betty-Ann joined BELCO in 2010 as an Apprentice Electrical Fitter in the Operations and Maintenance Department and progressed to Electrical Fitter Grade One, Distribution Systems Operator Grade One, and is currently Distribution Systems Operator Specialist.
Betty-Ann has benefitted from on-the-job training and as an Apprentice. During her time in the Operations Centre she said her manager ensured that staff were afforded every opportunity to grow and develop professionally.
While in the Operations Centre, Betty-Ann has completed an Advance Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering, a Diploma in Leadership and Management and an Engineering Technician Designation. She said she was inspired to advance her career from being an Electrical Fitter to a Distribution Systems Operator by one of her mentors, Munashe Chipezeze, who encouraged her to pursue an Engineering Technician Designation.
Taking an active role in Company operations, Betty-Ann is President of the Electricity Supply Trade Union. As the first female President of the ETSU, Betty-Ann credits her work colleagues who encouraged her to step up and become President. She explained: “To be fair I had said that one day I will be President when asked how far I wanted to go in the ESTU, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. It’s awe-inspiring. No other word describes it. It is a tremendous responsibility and a humbling experience. For me being the first female union leader means that I have the opportunity to encourage and empower people to stand up for themselves and for others. It also means that I have the opportunity to encourage others to be their best self and operate in and with integrity.”
During her time at BELCO she has been on the Joint Occupational Safety and Health (JOSH) Committee, served as the Co-Chair of the Joint Consultative Committee (JCC) and a member of the Cost Savings Working Group. She was also lead negotiator for two Collective Bargaining Agreements. She said: “This role provided me the opportunity to be a part of a team that was instrumental in making updates to not only union documents but also the Company’s Safe Work Practice Manual, Vehicle Policy, Drug and Alcohol Policy, and also to be a part of the Government Labour Advisory Committee which reviewed legislation and made suggestions to the Minister on various issues affecting our community.” She has also participated on the organisation’s Strategic Planning Team and Values Team which designed the new core values of the Company. Betty-Ann says: “The thing I enjoy most of being a part of any committee and/or organisation is the opportunity to help, give back or encourage someone else.”
Betty-Ann says her favourite part of the job is assisting customers, especially during outages. She also enjoys that no two days are alike and, on the technical side, she relishes Low Voltage Cable Fault find and repair. While her field of expertise is predominately male, Betty-Ann says this had benefitted her career and growth in that it pushes her to be her absolute best and encourages her to never make excuses.
Betty-Ann says she has never faced obstacles as a woman at BELCO, on the contrary she says: “When I was doing my apprenticeship the team of gentleman that played an instrumental part in my growth and development never treated me any differently and they always expected my best. If there was a task they knew I would not be able to do as far as lifting, etc. it was never a big deal and we strategised and made it work or if need be, asked for assistance.”
Indeed, Betty-Ann says she thrives under pressure, focuses on the task in hand and makes a plan to stay focused and get the job done. Hurricane season is an especially busy time in her department and her team strategises, acknowledges strengths and weaknesses and allocates work accordingly.
Mentors have had a big impact on Betty-Ann and she credits Fhia Works who, along with others, encouraged her to apply to the Apprenticeship Programme. Also Giselle Hudson, Tamara Davis and Suzane Greeman took her under their wings and encouraged her development.
As far as advice and encouragement for other women looking to get into her profession, Betty-Ann said: “Stay out of your own way. If you don’t mind getting a little dirty, if you like being inquisitive and if you like a challenge then do some research, set some goals, and then don’t be your biggest obstacle. Believe in yourself, build a support system and chase your goals. Set Groundbreaking Opportunities of Abundant Love and Success (GOALS) and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve them. Define yourself before anybody else does and create the culture you want for you – always control your environment! Always operate with purpose and embrace the experience. Remember you can’t change the past but you can adjust and define your future. You are the author of your story!”
As far as barriers to women in leadership roles, she said: “From my experience the most significant barrier to female leadership is acceptance. The way in which I overcame this is I remind myself judge not. When we are able to operate from a place of understanding, asking questions, getting the big picture, putting oneself in the position and compassion, I believe it benefits all.”
In the next 10 years Betty-Ann intends to continue on her path to successfully obtain her Incorporated Engineer Designation which would involve both theory and practical tasks.
Betty-Ann attended Victor Scott Primary School, Dellwood Middle School, The Berkeley Institute, Warwick Academy, Nova Scotia Community College and the Engineering Institute of Technology & Northern Lakes College. She says family and community are most important to her and she is a member of the Pembroke Parish Council. She was also the Women’s Empowerment Summit 2020 Women of the Year. She enjoys organising adult fun days, fishing, laser engraving, thermography, and prior to COVID, travel.