Though women comprise just 22% of the utility workforce compared to 47% in other industries, we’re spotlighting the power of each individual spark to ignite change. Follow along with our Women in Power series as we celebrate and empower women leading the way in a wide range of careers where AR/FR clothing plays a role.
Kori Wormsbecker wasn’t actively seeking a career as a local gas representative until the opportunity to shadow a neighbor who worked in the field presented itself. She received a business management degree from Idaho State University, and up until her apprenticeship in 2012, Kori worked in the call center at Avista Utilities. So, when we asked how she balanced her home life, including parenting her daughter in middle school, with the strenuous work that comes with completing the journeyman apprenticeship, she stated that she knew it would be a lot of work. “I didn’t even know what a gas pipe was, so I had to be taught everything. And there were some challenges.”
As the only female apprentice in her program, aside from the demanding coursework, Kori initially faced challenges in the field. “To be honest, I didn’t know how to shovel a ditch. So they had to teach me literally everything.” During her training, when she felt like she wasn’t receiving the help she needed, Kori asked to be transferred to a different dock so she could learn from a different perspective. After transferring, her new teacher taught her leverage – a critical skill used in the field to break meters apart. Subtle differences like this have helped to make the biggest difference in her career, and Kori expresses gratitude for the men who volunteered their time and extra training to help ensure her success.
Today, Kori is a journeyman gas local representative at Avista Utilities, located in the Pacific Northwest. As the only local gas rep covering Ritzville, Washington and its seven surrounding towns, Kori’s priorities vary from day to day, which is something she loves about her career. Showing up to work for the day could mean that Kori is responding to service calls, performing odorant reads, alleviating a natural gas leak, designing a gas line configuration for a customer, and doing fire department trainings because local fire departments serve as backup in case Kori is exposed to a flash fire.
Some aspects of being a local gas representative are more dangerous than others. Kori explains that the more eerie part of her job is when she’s required to perform a “dig-in.” A dig-in means that someone has hit a gas line, resulting in a blowing gas leak. As first responders, Avista servicemen must be on site before anyone else. Responding to a dig-in means protecting the safety of her customers, figuring out where the gas is coming from, securing the location for safety, and making sure no one close to the leak is smoking or burning anything.
No doubt, responding to something like a gas leak call is eerie for Kori. However, being there to provide worried customers with peace of mind and educating them on why something wasn’t working properly and how she fixed it brings joy to Kori and further fuels her passion for what she does.
We asked Kori if, personally or professionally, she wanted to provide women considering a career in the oil and gas or utility industries with any advice, and she responded, “The biggest thing is that if you want to get a journeyman card, be proud of that journeyman card. You're a journeyman. It’s a job title. That’s all it is. It doesn’t define who you are. And always smile – they cannot take that smile off of your face.”
Series: Women in Power
Follow along with this interview-style series to hear directly from women fueling careers in the energy sector on why they chose their occupation, what they like about it, their hopes for the future, their vision for the evolution of PPE, how we can help pave the way for other women, and more: