Drilling Forewoman, Pip Buunk is Making Female Tradies Proud!

Pip Buunk

How often do we hear the term forewoman? That's why we need more dads like Pip's.

This girl is breaking glass ceilings and stereotypes in an industry that for decades has been dominated by men, and all thanks goes to her father.

Pip Buunk, 30, is a Drilling Forewoman for Fulton Hogan, based out of Christchurch, New Zealand and has been drilling for 15 years. She is a Registered Senior Driller and holds a Level 4 trade certificate in non-hydrocarbon drilling with her work covering geotechnical/environmental, light civil and occasionally water well drilling across NZ.

"I was born into the trade. My parents had a drilling company when I was growing up and from a young age I was climbing on the machines stored in the back yard and had declared that I wanted to be "just like my dad", Pips says.

But no one would take her seriously, until Pip signed out of school after her last year 12 exam and walked onto a drilling site to test foundation anchors halfway across the country the very next day.

"I stay with it because the travel and challenges keep me on my toes, and there's always a tricky job to sink my teeth into and keep the brain thinking outside the box."

Success comes with its challenges

Initially, for Pip one of the biggest challenges was to get strong and fit enough to keep up with the guys. Being the only female and a lot smaller meant figuring out different ways to lift and move gear and still keep up.

Pip Working in Site

"The biggest challenge though has been being the first and only female most companies had employed in a field position and dealing with the old-school attitudes, bullying and harassment that sometimes comes with it," Pip confesses.

While the super girl still has to deal with this from time to time, Pip feels that there is now plenty of support for women getting into trades, with various support groups and people in general willing to help and guide female Tradies through their tough moments!

"The more of us there are, the more we are becoming accepted into the Trades community."

Pip's proudest moment

In 2018, Pip won the NAWIC Tradeswoman of the Year award, and was elected by the federation members to sit on the New Zealand Drillers Federation Council.

Pip getting Awarded

"Both were huge goals I'd set myself several years before," says Pip. Not long after, Pip became a board member of Women in Trades NZ and also the chair of the Tradeswomen sub-committee, which was a dream come true.

"This allowed me to become a source of information and support for other women that I wished I'd had when starting out."

A job you fall in love with every day!

The forewoman's work is taking her places as she looks at new challenges right in the eye and tells them "this place belongs to me".

Pip Standing on truck and smiling

"The thing I love being a Tradie is the variety," says Pip. "Different jobs in different parts of the country, doing something a little different every time and having the challenge of constantly adapting and evolving what we do."

"Getting to drive different trucks and transporters, learning to operate different machinery and drilling methods. Doing something practical that I can drive past years down the track and say "I drilled under there" or "my anchors are holding that rock face/bridge/road etc. up" gives me a sense of pride in what I do."

Other passions

Besides working and her various industry involvements, Pip enjoys reading, collecting and wearing colorful makeup, growing cacti and succulents, and training for powerlifting competitions which she compete in several times a year.

Disclaimer: Please note that this story is about Pip's journey as a Female Tradie and her comments are only experiences and opinions and do not reflect the standing or opinions of any companies or federations she is or have been affiliated with.

About Tradie Life

Tradie Life is a growing community group run by i4Tradies. It's a place for you to talk about whatever's important to you as a tradie. Be it your personal life challenges, questions on how to improve your business, your journey so far, volunteer work, being a female tradie, work-life balance, what you like to do when you are not working. Pretty much anything that matters to you and you want an answer to it from veteran tradies who have walked in your shoes.

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