As part of the #BuildingEquality 2018 Campaign, Phil Kane, Country Manager for Eaton Corporation, shares her story as a woman in construction.
Anything’s possible if you put your mind to it—that’s the message I’d share with every woman who wants to build a career in construction. I grew up on a family farm just outside Mullingar. There’s nothing like looking after animals and working with your hands to instill a great work ethic. My childhood certainly left me with a ‘roll up your sleeves’ mindset, not to mention a lifelong love of horses and the country life!
In my career, I started out very far away from construction. My first role was as an accounts assistant in a London-based IT company during the 1990s. It didn’t take me long to realize that sales was a better fit for my skills and to make the leap. Later, I was headhunted by American IT distributor Ingram Micro to help set up the company in Ireland. I established them here from scratch. It was a huge project management challenge, but it also trained me to be adaptable and to turn my hand to anything—whether that’s driving a forklift, loading a truck or solving HR problems.
Meanwhile, my family life taught me to be ready for anything too. We now have three sets of twin girls—something the doctors tell me is a million-to-one chance. A few years on in my career, I was headhunted again—this time by Cooper Industries, an electrical products manufacturer, which was then expanding its Irish operations. In 2012, Cooper was acquired by Eaton and I stepped into my current role. Things couldn’t have worked out better.
Eaton’s a fabulous place to be—one of the biggest companies in Ireland and a global innovator in power management. Working at Eaton has taught me that power is fundamental to everything we depend on in our daily lives: vehicles, planes, hospitals, factories, data centers—the list goes on and on. The same is true inside buildings. We don’t usually think about the backup power and safety systems that are always there, protecting us in our homes, offices, hotels and more. By enabling buildings to reduce power consumption, we can help protect the environment too—through intelligent connected lighting powered by smart sensors and highly efficient LEDs for instance. To this day, I still instinctively look up when I enter a building to see what emergency lighting and fire equipment is installed!
I’m very proud to be part of a company that’s so ethically-driven and aspires to be a model of inclusion and diversity. Everywhere Eaton does business, we’re committed to doing business right—from the ethical standards of our people, to the environmental stewardship of our facilities, to the local support we offer to the communities in which we live and work. The culture here is all about embracing the different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds that make each of us unique. It’s an engaging and passionate environment where everyone matters, everyone belongs, and everyone shares a common purpose: improving quality of life and the environment. I think it’s this outlook that’s made Eaton so good at attracting and retaining top talent from around the world.
Today, women make up just 6% of the Irish construction industry. What I say to that is don’t wait for anyone’s permission to change the status quo. The opportunities are out there. For instance, at Eaton we’re committed to promoting career paths for women in engineering. We outreach to local schools and colleges, offer an exceptional internship programme and are an active partner of the Society of Women Engineers.
So, if you’re inspired to build a career in construction, roll up your sleeves and get on with it. As Goethe said, “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it”.
To learn more about the #BuildingEquality campaign and to share your own story, please visit our dedicated #BuildingEquality page here