MRO Technician Spotlight: Kara Powers, Darana Hybrid
Darana Hybrid, an electro-mechanical contractor specializing in industrial electrical and mechanical installations of packaging and conveyor equipment sat down with Modern Material Handling editors to discuss her career in the industry.
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Title: Electrical Supervisor
Location: Paintsville, KY
Duties: Supervise electrical installation, manage employees while teaching best practices, communicate with customer and clients.
MHMRO: How did you get into this field, and what do you like about it?
Powers: I was a cashier in high school and stayed with my sister over the summer. Her husband needed help at Darana, and I started full time right out of high school. Seventeen years later, I’m still here. I didn’t plan on it at all, but now I can’t see myself doing anything else. It was just supposed to be a summer job, but I enjoyed the work and the traveling. I’ve always been good with numbers, which helps, but I had never wired anything up before. Installing something or fixing it and seeing it run, that’s what got me.
MHMRO: Who were your mentors or other influential professionals?
Powers: Darryl Cuttell and Rodney Caudill have always pushed me to do and be my best. But in the beginning, it was more like “throw you out there and sink or swim” than anybody “taking me under their wing,” but that style worked for me. The work is always a challenge, with some different type of goal for every project, and I like not going to the same nine-to-five every day. On some projects they want stuff done now and only thought about it yesterday, and you’re in there working 20 hours a day. Any time you’re presented with a project where people are thinking “you probably can’t do this,” it feels that much better when you accomplish it.
MHMRO: What are the most important skills for a successful technician?
Powers: In my opinion, it’s being able to retain information, which is a huge part, and the rest usually falls into place.
MHMRO: What technologies have helped you become more effective?
Powers: Cell phones above all else! I remember when we used to have to carry around a pile of books, just like the college kids, except ours were way bigger. Taking a laptop with you is way easier, and you can get all the manuals and information and help you need without walking all over the place and looking through books. Having everything in hand is much more efficient.
At the same time, there’s more to know than there was when I started. It used to be just a matter of running power to the motor and that was about it. Now instead of push buttons at the control stations it’s a touchscreen, and there are all sorts of proximity switches and photo eyes.
MHMRO: What advice would you give to a young person considering a career as a technician?
Powers: Hard work and dedication will take you far in life. If you aren’t willing to put time and effort into something it’s not worth doing. There aren’t a whole bunch of girls out here, and with this work you can’t have people who don’t want to lift anything, but there are guys who’ll try to hide from the work, too. I always think, if I can do it, what’s the reason you can’t? If I can tighten it, you gotta be at least as strong as me, so what’s your excuse?