Cooperative News

Meet Hope Brown, PEC’s only female lineworker

A Q&A with one of our newest team members

Hope Brown climbing a utility pole in her lineworker gear.

What was your life like before you started at PEC about six months ago?

Brown: Well, I’m a born and raised Nebraska City (Neb.) kid, but I moved to Iowa my junior year of high school. I joined the military because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life at the time. I felt that was what you did while you figured out what you wanted to do with your life.

When did you first consider becoming a lineworker?

Brown: My friend’s dad was a manager at PG&E, and he asked me what I was doing with my life. I told him, “I don”t know,” and he referred me to Northwest Lineman College (NLC).

I understand this is your first lineworker position, is that correct? What was the interview process like?

Brown: Yeah that’s right, and my interview was not like a lot of traditional interviews. I finished my 15 weeks of school at NLC in early August 2016, and I had previously met PEC Technical Training Manager James Vasquez on my third day at NLC. Two weeks after I graduated, I ran into him at the Texas Lineman’s Rodeo and he told me about the lineworker apprentice one position in Liberty Hill.

What does your day-to-day work look like?

Brown: Everything is still pretty new to me, so I’m still learning. I mostly start trucks, frame poles, get water and drive. I always work with a lineworker apprentice three, four or a journeyworker. I do a lot of watching more than anything. I try to watch and learn as much as I possibly can.

What’s your favorite part about the job? Has anything been a complete surprise?

Brown: It’s all been a bit of a surprise to me just because this is my very first line work job. I think climbing poles is probably my favorite thing to do so far.

We know linemen like to give each other a hard time. Do they treat you any differently?

Brown: Oh, you know, they all like to harp on me from time to time. It’s my entire crew, and it’s all in good fun. The jokes all go in a circle, and I have my fair share of chances to give it back to them as well. We clearly don’t have any fun around here, as I’m sure you can tell.

How does it feel being the only woman on your team?

Hope Brown in her lineworker gear, standing in front of a PEC service truck.Brown: Being stuck around a bunch of guys is just second nature to me. I’m from the military, so it’s not a change of scenery for me, really. It’s hard to have anything to say about it because I have been around it for so long. I like it though. There’s no real drama to it when working around guys all day. Trust me though, these guys have their female moments at times; they just won’t admit it to you.

Does your crew share any inside jokes?

Brown: They call me “Hope Floats” sometimes — a movie that has nothing to do with me. They are so weird. I know [PEC Journeyworker] Jonathan Harlow would tell you that I’m pretty awesome at karaoke when we ride in the trucks out in the field.

So, you’re an amateur karaoke artist?

Brown: Basically. I literally sing along to songs in the truck at the top of my lungs, and John secretly loves it. I busted out some Adele the other day. I think it was the “Someone Like You” song. I like jamming to The Chainsmokers, too, mostly just the songs that are popular on the radio these days.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

Brown: I like wakeboarding. I started doing that with my dad in Nebraska when I was about 12 years old. I’m not really good at it though, and it’s been more of a recreational thing. I usually go to the cable park in Waco or a park in south Austin.

If you weren’t doing line work, what job do you think you would be doing right now?

Brown: Well, I’m still in the military, but I did go to school to be a firefighter once. The field is extremely competitive, which is why it didn’t work out for me. I guess in a perfect world, I would work as a firefighter if I wasn’t a lineworker. PEC is working out just fine now, though, so I’m happy with where I am.

Do you see yourself here at PEC for the long haul?

Brown: I think it’s too early to say if I will be at PEC forever, but I definitely plan on becoming a journeyworker in the next five years. That’s a goal I would like to work toward here. It’s a great work atmosphere, and so far, I like coming to work each day and learning more about everything that involves line work.

Do you have any advice for anyone interested in pursuing line work, especially women?

Brown: That’s a really tough question. I’m not sure if I have the best advice, but I guess I would tell them to always be willing to learn and make sure you have fun doing the work you’re doing. I think women who want to be lineworkers shouldn’t be intimidated by it. If you want to do it, you just have to be a good, hard worker. The job doesn’t have to be just for the boys; it can be for whoever wants to do it. I did it, and so can anyone else.