After swapping a career in dentistry for gas engineering, Sonia Gillespie says she ‘never dreads a Monday’ coming in to work.
Sonia Gillespie started working as a gas engineer for Together Housing in 2019 after a huge change in her career path. Since she was 18-year-old, she worked as a dental nurse, but a few years later, knew she wanted a more fulfilling job.
The mum-of-two decided to take a leap of faith and pursue her dream of working in an industry that typically has few women. After spending her mid 20’s researching and deciding how to make the first steps, Sonia applied for an apprenticeship scheme in gas engineering with plumbing.
A year after her course, she managed to secure her role with Together Housing’s gas teams. For Sonia, the change provided not only job satisfaction, but additional happiness in her life.
She said: “I always knew I wanted to step into an industry where there aren’t typically as many women, because I wanted to be able to have that sense of achievement and to prove that being a woman doesn’t limit you. My mum was an electrical engineer, so I was never brought up to shy away from jobs like this, if anything, it was the norm for me.
“My family and friends supported me massively during the process and even though I had a steady job, two kids and a house to run with my husband, none of that became an obstacle in this journey.
“I was told Together Housing would be a good company to work for and they would give me lots of opportunities to thrive in this role and that’s exactly what has happened. Four years, down the line, and I get so much job satisfaction even now. I’m really happy, I don’t dread Mondays anymore.”
As a gas engineer, Sonia works in countless Together Housing properties, carrying out annual gas safety checks and repairs. Over the last few years, she’s found her recent career change also gives her the chance to be a role model to others.
Sonia added: “People tend to assume that certain jobs, more physical jobs, aren’t suitable for women but that’s not the case. I go into some properties and there’s little girls living there who look at me doing a job they would usually see a man do.
“They sometimes even question it because it’s not what they’re used to seeing but I like to set a positive example, so that in the future, when they start thinking about where they want to do in life, a job like mine, won’t seem unachievable but actually, a realistic option for them to pursue.”
Geoff Wallis, Repairs Team Coordinator for Together Housing, met Sonia during a careers fair at the end of her apprenticeship. After seeing her CV and interviewing her in person, Geoff offered Sonia the role that she now has.
He said: “Sonia’s career story is one we’re really proud of. There aren’t many people who would completely change their career path whilst having a secure job and raising two young children, but she did it with such passion and determination that there was no doubt she would succeed.
“I’m thrilled she came to us during the careers event. She has become such a valued member of our team, and her story alone proves that anyone can achieve their career goals no matter what they are. This is exactly what we strive to accommodate in Together Housing and we’re eager to support people from all backgrounds in their progression with us.”