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On Site with Emily Sutton

Emily Sutton works at Citycare as a Sheet Piling/Digger Operator in the Civil team. Not for the faint hearted, her role involves operating a large, complex piece of machinery, driving large sheets of steel into the ground to make a safe structure to work in. She also works on digger operations at various sites for drainage and earthworks projects. Hard work and determination over the last six years has brought Emily’s career to where it is today. Within that time frame she was given the opportunity to learn how to operate the sheet piler; that alone took around six months of training under the guidance of her supervisor Jon Kissel.

You may ask what drove a young woman just finishing high school, to make the decision to join the construction industry?

“I had no idea what I wanted to do after I left school. I was studying a sports science degree, but while on a course with the NZ Army, I was approached to join Citycare’s pre-apprenticeship programme. That really started it all. In the programme you can work in many of the divisions, and at the end I was offered a job in Three Waters drainage. Now, a little over six years later I am working in the Citycare Civil team which I really enjoy. I love the diverse range of work and challenges it brings with it,” says Emily.

Her role at Citycare has seen her work on a variety of projects, including assisting in efforts to get Kaikoura back on its feet after the earthquakes in November 2016.

“The variety of work is one of the things that really attracts me to the job and keeps me motivated. Every day is different, and I am constantly learning on the job. When the earthquakes hit Kaikoura, we were choppered in to help get the Three Waters piping networks back up and running as quickly as possible for the residents. Although we worked extremely long days, the critical jobs we were tasked with made it all worthwhile and I was proud to be part of the response team chosen to assist.  

Emily is often the only woman on site but has recently noticed a few more female faces and enjoys mentoring women new to the construction industry and within the Citycare sectors.

“It’s a hard job. It can be challenging both physically and mentally at times, but with experience you get stronger and you improve on yourself and your work ethic. Women are absolutely cut out for this type of work. You just need the right attitude and a desire to work hard. It’s a cool job, and even on days when I am tired or down, as soon as I get on site I am cheered up by my team’s camaraderie. I can’t fault this job, it’s the best,” says Emily.

While Emily enjoys learning on the job, she has also benefited from more traditional professional education opportunities. Most recently, Citycare has helped her achieve a Trade Certification in Earthworks. Emily says its learning options like these that will help her progress her career.

“I have career aspirations. I want to get more knowledge behind me, I want to have the opportunity to work on interesting jobs and eventually get my own crew. Working at Citycare will help me get there.”

In addition to her role in the Citycare Civil team, Emily is also a member of the Citycare rural fire brigade and works with Civil Defence on a regular basis. This work has seen her fighting fires on the Port Hills, including various large fires out of the Christchurch area, assisting as a first responder during the March 15 terror attacks in Christchurch and helping others whenever she can.

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