Tradeswoman Profile – Katrina Palmer

TWA was delighted to interview Katrina recently – a focused, proactive Electrician & Instrumentation Technician working with ExxonMobil (Altona Refinery). Katrina is also part of TWA’s industry Reference Council, regularly providing information and advice to improve the tradeswoman experience within male dominated industries:

Thanks very much for taking the time out to chat with us Katrina. What prompted you to pursue an apprenticeship within the electrical trade?

I wanted skills that I could apply on the job from the moment I learnt them. There are different learning styles and I find it’s easier to remember how things work if you can physically pull it apart, repair/replace components and put it back together. I also wanted to earn money while I learnt. 

In relation to taking up an Electrical apprenticeship, I had a general interest in that area, wanting to study Electrical or Chemical Engineering early on. I hadn’t been given much awareness about opportunities available in trades especially for women. Then I saw an ad for an Electrical & Instrumentation apprenticeship and weighed up my options. It was a great opportunity to get into industry and learn the skills that I would need, so I took it in both hands and ran with it. There are also a few sparkies in the family and my dad was an instrument mechanic by trade and now an Electrical/Instrumentation Engineer. So I had a bit of an idea of what the work would be like. Being dual trade gives variety in the type of work that I do and there are various specialisations that I can progress towards (Control Systems, High Voltage, Analysers etc).

Thanks Katrina. What’s aspects of your work do you enjoy most?

I find it is a good balance of thinking/problem solving and keeping active but not too physically demanding being a maintenance technician. I also enjoy seeing the outcome of the plant operating safer and more reliably after I’ve repaired or replaced a faulty component.

And what are your long term goals?

I’ll stay in the trade for the near future but I have known other people in a similar position to me to have various options: FIFO, become an operator or an engineer with some extra study, move around in the organisation now that I have a grounding in the industry. The options are there if I choose to pursue them.

You’re so passionate and proactive about your electrical career, Katrina, and a great role model for up and coming female electricians. What’s your advice to them?

If you think you might enjoy it, give it a go. You won’t know until you try it 🙂

And tell us about the Katrina outside of the workplace. What are your interests?

Snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, Aikido, travelling whenever and wherever I get the chance. And plenty of Zelda during COVID-19 restrictions.


Join Katrina and many other successful tradeswomen role models to make a difference – register today – Drop us a line to find out how you can get involved –