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Cathy Cockin: Women in Construction and Trade

Written by Penny

We're featuring women in construction and trade

This week we spoke to Cathy Cockin, director of Little Miss Electrical: West Yorkshire based female electrician services

Hi Cathy, thank you for taking the time to speak to us! Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?

So I’m an electrician, mainly residential and commercial. We cover a wide range of services including CCTV and alarms so it’s a really good variation.

What inspired you to become an electrician?

I was inspired to become an Electrician when we were renovating a house and we needed a reliable electrician on hand. I looked up how I could learn to re-wire our house and enrolled onto a course in my annual leave.

I ended up really enjoying it and wasn’t really enjoying my legal career. I finally took the leap and started subbying for a local spark while I did some further qualifications and never looked back!!

I started networking when I needed some of my own work and before I knew it I was inundated with people wanting to see if these mythical female electricians were real and more importantly any good!! 

Since then I’ve slowly grown my team and we now have 7 ladies (both full and part time) who make up the crew.  

Cathy Cockin

Which of your achievements are you most proud of?

I think I was most pleased when I re wired our house and it all tested ok and worked. I had my NICEIC visit at this house and I was so nervous I thought I was guaranteed to fail.

I had got so worked up but the assessor was lovely and calmed my nerves and he said I passed with flying colours. He was really impressed by my drive and ability to pick things up so quickly. I couldn’t have been more proud sticking their logo on my van.

Since then I’m a lot more confident and have enjoyed learning new skills so fixing something simple like a doorbell can feel really rewarding when your customers all start cheering “DING DONG” after 2 previous electricians didn’t fix it.

Do you have a personal motto?

I think our motto is “go on lass”. When I used to help my boyfriend (who’s a plasterer) labouring, the lads would shout “go on Cath” and I’d feel really embarrassed. It reminded me of being younger having a motor cross bike on the farm and the lads cheering and instead of enjoying myself I’d feel really silly.

Since re-training as an Electrician and getting to know the building trade I’ve learnt to fit in with the lads and be part of the banter so I think “go on lass” has become much more of an empowering phrase for me now.

Are there any women who work in construction/trade within your own personal network that inspire you (feel free to leave their twitter handles for a shout out)? 

I adore Hattie Hassan from Stopcocks Women Plumbers. She reminds me of my great auntie so much who chose a career over family life back in the 50s.

You can see how strong she is by her story of determination. She’s been fighting for women in construction long before I was around and it’s got to be appreciated how much of an inspiration that is. Her book is a fantastic read too – “The Joy of Plumbing”

Do you have any advice for women who might be deciding whether they want to start a career in the industry

I’d say don’t easily give up. It is really hard to gain experience and find people willing to talk to you but when you do find one they can make such a big difference.

Get as much experience as possible!! Firms want experience and it will be the difference in them forgetting you exist to them raising their eyebrows and showing an interest. 

If you can find an apprenticeship do it! This is the cheapest way to get fully qualified and build the most experience you can. It’s a longer route but will definitely pay off! 

Cathy Cockin

What do you think the future holds for you?

For the future we would certainly like to go further in expanding our team. Girls contact me all the time asking for help and advice and I’d like to help as many as possible coming into the industry. 

Do you have anyone you’d consider to be your mentor? How have they helped you?

My big sister, Rebecca Lockwood, is my mentor. She’s done a range of things including sales and now she’s an NLP Mindset Coach.
When I wanted to become a spark it was ultimately my choice but it didn’t feel that way. I felt like there was so much pressure on me to continue with law but my sister helped me to realise it was a simple decision of my own.
My boyfriend has also been a massive inspiration. He’s self employed and showed me the ropes of the building trade that have put me miles ahead if I had just gone to college. 

Three tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island?

The Beautiful South – Perfect 10, James – Laid, Ed Sheeran – thinking out loud.
Book – when horses were supreme – no body will know this but it’s a book my dad gave me to read.
Luxury – if I can take my Bengal cat Tiny then him! If not coconut Greek yoghurt

This was Cathy Cockin of Little Miss Electrical, interviewed for our #WiCW series – a compilation of articles from inspirational women in the Construction and Trades industries. Want to get involved? Have someone to recommend? Get in contact with us on Twitter or enquiries@shakeandspeare.com

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