Interview: Bianca O'Neill at Jamon Demolition

By: Caitlin Gentleman

Bianca O’Neill at Jamon Demolition Bianca O'Neill. Bianca O’Neill at Jamon Demolition
Bianca O’Neill at Jamon Demolition Bianca O’Neill at Jamon Demolition

Although machine operating remains a largely male-dominated industry in New Zealand, Deals On Wheels searched out some women machine operators to see what spins their wheels about their work.

Twenty-four-year-old Bianca O'Neill is a digger operator for Jamon Demolition Ltd in Christchurch. Caitlin Gentleman chatted to her about being a female in the industry. This is what she had to say…

How did you get into digger operating?

I started off labouring for my dad. I did that for about two years, and my boss kept asking me if I wanted to go on the digger. I hadn't been very keen but someone was away sick one day and they subbed me in. They never really took me out of the digger after that.

What were you doing previously?

Funnily enough, I used to be a hairdresser but I didn't like all of the cattiness and it was really long hours for minimum wage. I'm not really one of those girls who likes to sit around and gossip, I would rather just be working.

Why did you decide to be a machine operator?

It's a challenge, something a bit different. You don't really see many females doing it, and I don't like to be defeated. I'm a bit competitive. I currently drive a 21-tonne Hyundai.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

I like the people I work with and the different challenges I face each day. Every house demolition is different. Some have bricks, which have to be separated from the timber. Things like that keep it really interesting.

There's nothing I could say I hate about it. I dislike turning up to jobs where the site is really messy and I have to clear junk away. I also get a bit sick of filling out all of the paperwork. Working in the rain isn't much fun either. Other than that, I really enjoy what I do.

Have you considered going back to your old career?

Nope! No way.

What tips would you give to other women wanting to enter the industry?

It is a male-dominated industry, but working with males isn't as bad as what you might think. I get along well with everyone and get treated as one of the boys. If you've got someone who's patient and willing to teach you, it makes it a lot easier. My dad taught me so I was pretty lucky in that aspect. So I guess I would just say if you have a good teacher and are confident, you'll be fine.

What's it like working with your dad?

I miss working with him. He's a great teacher and has a good sense of humour so it was always fun when we were on jobs together. We work in different crews now.

Bianca _4

Caitlin got the chance to speak to Bianca's father, Terry (pictured above), who also works at Jamon Demolition.

How did you start working for Jamon Demolition?

I started at Jamon Demolition three years ago after moving to Christchurch from Wellington. I met the owners when I was out walking my dog and they offered me a job. I've seen a real growth in the company, going from seven employees to 80, in 15 crews.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I like the variety — every job comes with a different challenge so it doesn't get boring. Jamon Demolition has been a great company to work for.

What's it like working with family members?

It's been really good. I've worked with Bianca and my son, and now my stepdaughter is on my crew. I've been pretty lucky – not many parents get to work with their kids and I've really gotten to know what their skills and talents are through working with them.

What do you think of Bianca being a digger operator?

I think it's great. She's taken to it like a duck to water, and I would say she's become one of our better workers. I'm very proud of her.

Also check out our write-up on Tanya Claxton, who works for Infracon Central in Hawke's Bay. Never miss an issue of Deals on Wheels. Subscribe here.

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