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Meet Tenille Reilley, Manager, Women in Trades program

BUSY At Work is passionate about supporting women in non-traditional trade careers and we want to see more women entering trades like building and construction, diesel mechanics, engineering, agriculture, electrical and mining industries, among many more.

With current trade skills shortages, it makes sense to encourage women to consider non-traditional trade pathways, which often provide more remuneration and job satisfaction for women, as well as encouraging diversity and inclusion for workplaces and industry.

We recently chatted to Tenille Reilly, Manager of BUSY At Work’s Women in Trades program which offers a range of services to encourage and support women in traditionally male-dominated trades.

What is your professional background?

In my youth I started as a hairdressing apprentice with Stefans. I soon decided (in my second year of my apprenticeship) that beauty was not the right career path for me.

I then got into banking with the Commonwealth Bank and loved my time there getting to understand compliance, finance, and service but I didn’t really enjoy the sales expectations in that role.

Due to motherhood, I took time out to raise my children. When I was ready to return to work, I decided to take on administration traineeship and start from the bottom with an industry body for a bricklaying and blocklaying company. This traineeship opportunity was, coincidently, provided to me by BUSY At Work. This was where I FELL IN LOVE with BUSINESS! I was then employed as a full-time staff member and quickly took on more roles, progressing quicky. This inspired me to commence my bachelor’s degree in business & commerce, with USQ. I was always passionate about empowering women within the trades industry and that’s where I felt I started to ‘make a difference’ in the apprenticeship space.

What made you decide to become a manager of BUSY Sisters/Women in Trades programs?

I was already a driving force in my previous role with an industry body for a trade, driving female participation and initiating support groups for the females in that trade. I have always believed that women can literally do anything and have also always been the sort of person that if someone ever told me I couldn’t do anything I’d say, ‘JUST WATCH ME THEN’. I have never had the mindset that things aren’t possible, call me naïve but I believe we can do anything we put our mind to! Grit and resilience have been a key driver in my success. Once I knew that Business was my passion, I knew that I always wanted to lead and inspire others to believe in themselves. This role was a no brainer, an opportunity to lead and inspire others, not only my team but other females that needed that extra encouragement to realise what skills they have. What a way to give back to the world right? That gives me pure joy!

What is the best part about your job?

There is so much about my job that I love, but it would have to be the amazing team of women I work with that helps make the magic happen. I couldn’t ask for a more driven, caring, and passionate team that are also here to make a genuine impact. I love being able to be a voice for other women who are wanting to break barriers – as there is still change needed.

What skills do the programs help women develop?

Our programs help empower women when they feel outnumbered or the minority. They not only provide communication skills that will help them in their workplace but with their career progression as well. We provide a safe place for every form of support from personal, financial, and mental health – which helps change their life on so many levels, not just in successfully completing their apprenticeship journey.

What is the goal when a new mentee joins the program?

The goal is to engage, provide a safe space for them to just be heard and acknowledged. Having experience with industry, we provide them the resources and support that they may not be aware they need when they first enter the industry. The goal is to make sure we are RETAINING our female workforce in these trades, particularly whilst they are still heavily dominated by males. We hope to empower them so that one day they have the strength to empower another woman – it’s a domino effect for the movement – and to make sure that we have a healthily diverse workforce in the trades sector.

Why is it important for women to work in non-traditional trades?

It is extremely important to have a diverse workforce, a healthy balance of men and women in any workplace benefits the culture, inter-relationships and perspectives that benefit the employer and the industry. It’s important that females realise hands on roles in these trades are a possible career choice! It always has been (we’ve seen that in history during the wars) but social stigmas continue to act as a barrier. With today’s technologies it is even easier for women to perform tasks in these industries. For instance, an auto mechanic role has changed dramatically over the years, with more computer skills required. We are here to remind women that they can succeed in whatever they want to do and provide a safe space for them to come talk about it, whenever they need.

What would you say to women wanting to start a trade?

Get out there and have a go! Don’t let any preconceived ideas hold you back, it will be such a rewarding career!

What is your advice to women who have just started in a non-traditional role?

Have confidence in yourself and the skills you bring to the team! And if you struggle with that, fake it till you make it girlfriend… YOU GOT THIS! Don’t sell yourself short or let archaic mindsets determine your worth.

What can these women look forward to in a trade career?

Independence, a physically rewarding career that can also lead to an abundance of career progression opportunities.

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