Switching career paths can be a scary decision, but Stephanie Hall took a chance that changed her life forever. Working her way from Groundman to Foreman, it’s easy to see that Stephanie was meant to be at New River.
From Prescriptions to Blueprints
After working in pharmacies for a large part of her professional career, Stephanie woke up one day and realized it was time for a change. She was ready for more out of her career, and specifically wanted to work with her hands. A few years prior, Stephanie had met an NRE Superintendent through a friend, so she decided to give him a call.
“I picked up the phone and wasn’t sure if he would even remember me,” Stephanie shares. “I called him and asked if he had a job, and he told me he’d make a phone call.” This call was what changed it all for Stephanie. The superintendent got back to her a few days later, “If you sign the papers this week, I’ll have your job waiting for you Monday morning.” With that opportunity presented to her, Stephanie packed her things and went to work on Monday morning in a new industry.
Though she lacked experience in the utility industry, Stephanie was drawn to NRE because it seemed like the company offered many growth opportunities. Her determination and drive to provide for her son led her to take a leap of faith and join New River Electrical, a decision that has proven to be life-changing for her. Stephanie quickly rose through the ranks, enrolled in the apprenticeship program, and today she is the company’s first female Foreman in our Substation Construction and Maintenance division.
A Foreman’s Dedication on All Levels
When Stephanie came to New River, she was greeted with open arms as she walked into a whole new world. Despite just starting, Stephanie’s natural leadership skills and dedication to her work quickly caught the attention of her colleagues. “I started out as a Groundman,” she says, “and then after a couple of months, coworkers started talking to me about pursuing an apprenticeship. So I thought, ‘I’m going to do that.'”
During her apprenticeship, her mentor’s unwavering belief in her potential further fueled her ambition to become a Foreman, “He encouraged me by saying I will make a good Foreman one of these days,” Stephanie’s apprenticeship was a transformative experience that provided her with a comprehensive education and training in leadership and management. After finishing the apprenticeship program, Stephanie was offered the Foreman position with NRE.
With the responsibility of managing a crew of four to twelve individuals, Stephanie approaches each day focusing on safety and consistency. Her dedication to ensuring her team has everything they need to succeed is essential to her leadership style. “I spent my whole life, including at the college level, playing basketball. And I fully believe that’s taught me the importance of teamwork and leadership attributes,” stated Stephanie. The mutual respect among the crew is a testament to the positive team dynamic that Stephanie has fostered. The team’s willingness to support and guide one another, regardless of their level of expertise, clearly demonstrates the trust and camaraderie within the team.
Strength in Numbers
Everybody relies on one another, which Stephanie had experienced before in her previous career, but not to this extent. “Not one person can do anything by themselves out here, it takes a team, and you bond over that. You’re in the mud or concrete, it’s raining, and everyone’s tired, but you can still laugh and joke and have a good time with the person next to you; it’s awesome, and I love it. If they’re digging a ditch, I’m digging right there with them. I won’t ever ask my crew to do anything I’m not willing to do myself.”
Stephanie supports her crew by working alongside them through hands-on collaboration and open-mindedness. The crew makes things work as one unit, much like a family. Stephanie can’t help but laugh and smile when her team endearingly refers to her as “Ma.” This collaborative spirit is her favorite part about working at New River, “I know I can walk into any job, and if it involves something I’m unfamiliar with, I can count on my team,”
Having this level of trust and support is paramount to New River Electrical’s safety culture, and NRE does an excellent job of implementing that culture, according to Stephanie. It’s ingrained in every team member. “The saying out here is ‘be your brother’s keeper,’” she says. “Be there for everybody, watch out for one another, and be safe. At the end of the day, everyone needs to go home whole.”
Stephanie says it’s moving to see her NRE family take it upon themselves to move and get things done, no matter what. There was one instance where the team was asked to work on a project where they had to make up for lost time. They worked diligently and completed the job in a remarkable amount of time. “Every day, they go above and beyond,” Stephanie shares. “They’re the best team I could ever imagine having. I look at them and think, ‘That’s my team right there, and I’m proud of them.’ I’m a proud Ma for sure!”
A Place of Belonging at New River Electrical
Stephanie’s journey in a male-dominated industry has had its challenges, but her perseverance and determination have been her driving force. She believes that anyone, regardless of gender, can succeed in this industry as long as they put in the hard work. “You can’t let anyone intimidate you or tell you that you don’t belong. As long as you put your mind to it and put in the work, the sky is the limit. We all have the same goal: to make a living for our families and get the work done safely. So go do it!”
Stephanie feels valued at New River, “They know that I want to learn and advance, and they have been absolutely 100% supportive of that. They take good care of me. I often hear them say, ‘we need more women out here who want to do this type of work.'”
For Stephanie, this isn’t just a job; it’s a career she’s passionate about. Working with people she cares about and achieving all she has given her such pride. Plus, having the opportunity to help communities gives her great satisfaction. “We show up, and there’s nothing but a field of dirt. Then at the end of the project, you walk away, and there’s a substation standing, supplying energy to thousands of people. Seeing all that you’ve done from the ground up is powerful.”
Empowering From Within to Build a Brighter Future
Working for New River has changed Stephanie’s perspective on the world around her. Before entering the industry, she gave little thought to what was behind turning on a light switch. Now she realizes that so much goes into supplying folks with power in their communities. Every element in a substation comes together like an intricate puzzle. All the pieces must be connected seamlessly to work properly, like the teams that build these substations. “It’s vital to trust everyone inside the yard,” Stephanie says. “While you do that in just about every job, there are significantly more safety hazards in this industry.”
Being a part of the NRE team has challenged Stephanie in ways she’d never been challenged before, and she says it’s even made her a better mother. “Succeeding in a male-dominated industry gives me more confidence in myself, that I never really had. I can go home and give that to my son and show him that he can do anything he wants to,” she says. There have been times when she and other outside forces have doubted her and her capabilities., but Stephanie goes on to say that working in this industry “is not a male or female thing. It’s the attitude and the willingness to do what it takes. I can do exactly what my male teammates do and succeed.” It’s a big motivator for her to keep going and push forward.
We are grateful that Stephanie found her way to New River and are so proud to have her as a part of the NRE family. Your hard work does not go unnoticed, Stephanie. Thank you for all you do!