Trailblazers like Teena Dampier are going to compel the utility industry to tweak some of its job titles. In this case, it’s groundman equipment operator – and for being the first woman at Tampa Electric to hold this position, you could say she’s staying pretty grounded.
After two years at Tampa Electric as a utility worker tasked with traffic control at work sites, Dampier started in her new role this month. Now she’s one of 17 team members at TECO who operate nearly all types of heavy machinery – including bucket trucks, payloaders and highway diggers that set power poles – that we use to safely serve the community with 99.9 percent reliability.
“I knew some people at TECO who had the job [of groundman equipment operator], and that inspired me,” Dampier said, adding her thanks to her family for the support they’ve shown.
“They said just go for it; they’re pretty confident in me.”
And while Dampier said her status as Tampa Electric’s first female groundman equipment operator has been “brought up a few times,” neither she nor her team members are dwelling on it – everybody knows they have a big job to do across our 2,000-square-mile service area that includes approximately 6,300 miles of overhead distribution lines, 1,300 miles of overhead transmission lines and 429,000 utility poles. After severe weather, TECO team members rotate around the clock to restore power; sometimes they even travel to far-off communities to provide aid as part of Tampa Electric’s mutual assistance pact with other Southeastern Electric Exchange utilities.
Dampier had high praise for the training she and others on her team have received, especially with its emphasis on safety above all else.
“Safety is preached and practiced at TECO – staying mindful and focused, always wearing proper gear and looking out for others on your team becomes your second nature,” she said, admitting to new-in-a-job feelings that many people can relate to: “I’m pretty hard on myself; I don’t want to let people down.”
She also had words of praise for her TECO teammates, including her training supervisors.
“I’d like to thank all the support I’ve had within the company and all of my distribution supervisors, especially Tim Sabourin as well as the transmissions supervisors and the Skills Training Center staff for all the encouragement throughout the my entire two years with the company,” she said. “Wade Allen, Sam Nowakowski and Steve Dosal pushed me when I was about to give up, and I wouldn’t have finished without them. Tim continues to help me improve my skills and always has an encouraging word.”
It’s a dedication to serving the community that drives TECO team members in all types of roles at the company as they focus on Achievement with a Sense of Urgency – right alongside the rest of our values and commitment to diversity. For Dampier and others like her, there are yet more trails to blaze – and a lot of room at TECO, for women and men alike, to follow their dreams.