Interview with Elaine Lohner, EHS Coordinator for Cargill Westwood Project

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Elaine Lohner EHS Coordinator for Cargill Westwood Project located in Camrose Alberta Approximately worked in Industrial/Construction for 7 years.

Cranesy: Would you recommend other women to undertake this career? What do you love about cranes?
Elaine Lohner: Absolutely, working in Alberta’s booming Industrial/Construction Industry is full of opportunities… one around every corner! Gradually over the years you are seeing more and more women in the industry, which is very encouraging. The days of being intimidate by the Industrial/Construction sector being dominated by the male are over!
I think that if you have the will, patience and ability to learn any woman can make this a very prosperous career. Two years ago I got the pleasure to work as a Health and Safety Advisor for one of the largest Crane Company’s in the world and that is where I obtained most of my knowledge about Cranes. I got the chance to work with a diverse group of individuals and extremely knowledgeable Supervisors that guided me along. One of my favorite aspects about working in the crane industry was the opportunity to meet so many skilled individuals and I was so fortunate that they were all willing to share their knowledge with me. The talent and skillset that these Crane Operators have is amazing!!!

Working with the large crawler cranes is my absolute favorite! So many different components to accomplishing a safe lift, from rigging the crane up when it arrives on site, too walking it into position, hooking onto a load and safely landing it! When that load has safely reached the intended destination that makes me a very happy person!! It gives the entire team a real sense of accomplishment.

C.: It’s usually to say that construction sector is a male dominated industry. Do women have to work harder to gain credibility in this sector?
E. L.: I wouldn’t say women have to work “harder”, but yes you have to work hard!! As long as you have confidence and a bit of a “thick skin” you will do just fine. With the proper tools and support you will succeed. Be passionate about learning and others will see that, this will open the door to being more accepted in this industry.

C.: The best way to achieve a work – life balance?
E. L.: The best way to achieve a work and life balance is just to leave work at work! That is where I have struggled in the past. Once you leave that job for your days off, you just need to make sure you turn off your work life! It is very important to draw a line and enjoy your family and friends when you have the time. I’m not going to “sugar coat” it! Working in this industry typically has you on the road and in very remote locations. I have been working on Industrial/Construction sites for the last 7 years staying in camps, driving to remote locations and not knowing anyone. This tends to take a toll on the body and mind, not everyone will “make the cut”. My time on the road finally paid off as now I have recently accepted a position where I am able to be home every night, which I am so grateful for!

C.: Aside from work how do you spend your spare time?
E. L.: When I am not working I enjoy my spare time with family and friends. My family has a large grain farm that I am actively involved in, I really enjoy helping on the farm. I also enjoy camping, fishing and just sitting in my back yard! This provides me peace and clarity to have the patience to my job properly.

C.: Best lesson you’ve learned along your career?
E. L.: The best lesson that I have learned along my career is to ask questions! Assumption will get you into trouble. There are no “dumb questions”, every day you should be learning! Keep a journal and take notes (I take probably too many), but I regularly find myself digging through my old journals from previous jobs for information! Also by documenting your days events you can protect yourself!

If it’s not in writing… It didn’t happen!

C.: Recipe to stay positive?
E. L.: My recipe to stay positive is to not sweat the small stuff, something that I have struggled with in the past as well. Stressing yourself out over the minor issues leaves you very vulnerable when your brain power is needed to solve an major issue. Also it is very important to surround yourself with positive people; all it takes is one “negative nelly” to poison an entire group!

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