ATNZ Apprentice selected for prestigious Rotary leadership programme

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05 March 2020

For Taranaki engineering apprentice Janis Baker, attending the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Programme (RYLA) last month gave her some “amazing leadership skills” that she hopes will help her achieve her dream of becoming a CEO in the coming years.

The 19-year-old, who grew up in Kaponga and now lives in New Plymouth, is in the second year of her apprenticeship with ATNZ, New Zealand’s largest employer of mechanical engineering apprentices. Janis has been seconded to Trustpower (Taranaki Generation) where she spends her days working on hydro power stations.

Janis was attracted to engineering when she was still at school. “In year 11 I had a choice of studying home economics or engineering and I thought ‘well you don’t always need to cook your food, but you will always have to service your car’ - and to this day I still service my car!  I really enjoy the challenges and variety of work I get to do each day. Meeting new people through my job is also a highlight.”

Janis attended RYLA through sponsorship by the Ngāmotu Rotary Club, along with 23 other young people from around the lower North Island.

RYLA isn’t Janis’s first brush with Rotary, having attended the Innovative Young Minds (IYM) programme in 2017.

“I absolutely loved IYM and two years later I returned as a volunteer and general helper. Paul Newsome from Hutt Valley Rotary who helps run IYM was instrumental in getting me on the RYLA course and shoulder tapped me to see if I’d be interested. Paul and the IYM team have approached me to go back to IYM this year and help facilitate it!” says Janis.

RYLA is a week-long, live-in course based in Lower Hutt designed to help young people develop their teamwork and communication skills and to help them discover their potential as leaders.

Janis says she learned “everything she hoped and 100 times more” and while she is only in the second year of her apprenticeship in an industry she loves, she has her sights firmly set on her future.

“I learned a lot about myself personally and picked up some amazing leadership skills that will definitely help me in the future. I am also in the process of initiating a Rotary satellite group that will be up and running soon.

“I am very grateful to have had the support of the Ngāmotu Rotary and I am looking forward to being actively involved in different events the Club organises or having its support to get more young people into more community-based activities.”

Her account manager Angus Ryburn says Janis has a willingness to engage and is open to whatever learning possibilities come within her reach.

“She has lofty goals and backs herself. She’ll go far,” he says.

Once Janis has completed her engineering apprenticeship she is keen to travel and then return and study for an electrical qualification. She recommends engineering as a career and says while there are challenges along the way, they’re all a part of learning a trade.

ATNZ currently has more than 50 engineering training opportunities available throughout the country listed on its job board.