“Hard work, patience and lots of prayers”- this was Kathy’s response when asked how she got to where she is in life today.

Kathy Gooden-Gardner, a Control Room Operator (CRO) at Jamaica Private Power Company (JPPC), has been in the field for almost eight years. Jamaica Private Power Company, located in Rockfort, Kingston, is the 60MW power plant under the Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP) Group.

The Manchester native, with almost 20 years of work experience, grew up with brothers. She describes as the “traditional” education at the Bishop Gibson High School for Girls, where she studied the sciences. But for her, the choice was always between medicine or engineering. The deciding factor was finding the sight of blood, puss, and other body fluids repulsive, so engineering became a no-brainer for her.

When asked if she regrets not overcoming her fears and pursuing medicine, a seemingly effervescent Kathy said, “maybe” – it was as if she knew back then that she would lead a successful career in the energy sector one day.

In 2013, young Gooden completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Industrial Systems at the Caribbean Maritime University and immediately landed a job at a small company. After seven months, Kathy started a new chapter when she became an intern at the Jamaica Private Power Company. After eight months of training, she was promoted to Plant Technician (PT) and spent another four years in this capacity. By 2019, when JEP acquired JPPC, the young PT was elevated to Control Room Operator (CRO), the position she continues to excel in today. 

Working for a dynamic, 24-hour operation can be advantageous. However, Kathy admitted that one obstacle, climbing up the ranks, was to prove that she could fulfil the requirements for each position, and so she did.

“I was the first female hired to both roles in the company’s history. Being the ‘first’ and leading the way for other women is my most notable achievement. I don’t have a mentor or role model, but I enjoy learning from other people while trying to be the best version of myself.” – Kathy said.

“I have always wanted to do engineering”, Kathy added and considered her ability to perform her job tasks and being a contributing team member as the high points of her success to date. Popular among her peers/colleagues for her brainpower and diligence, Kathy shared that the favourite part of her current position is offering her knowledge and experience to accomplish her daily goals.

Her daily work activities include monitoring all plant systems regarding temperature, pressure, levels, and vibration.

“Whatever is off, I can either direct my plant technicians to assess and adjust. I can also do the adjustments remotely by starting/stopping equipment or opening/closing control valves.”

Kathy also takes pride in maintaining open communication with her supervisors, managers and the JPS System Control Room, as relaying information to each stakeholder daily is crucial.

“Based on the energy demand, I would have to increase or decrease power generation. I record all actions, activities and instructions in a logbook and generate reports for the production department. I also ensure that the plant is operating optimally, and in the event of a crisis, address/avert all issues promptly.” – Kathy explained.

She added that “this position takes focus, quick thinking, and requires that you mentally store a lot of information. Good time/resource management, communication and multi-tasking skills are also essential. It will be tough but persevere. Make sure you have a support system to keep you moving forward through the challenging times.”

In commemoration of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’, Kathy’s view on gender equality is respecting what each gender brings to the table and how these contributions can fuse to accomplish great things.

“We all have something to offer despite whatever differences are perceived. For example, you may not have the same physical strength as another individual, but you can stand out in other areas. For example, your problem-solving skills could be top-notch, or your ability to recall lots of valuable/historical information could save the day in helping to solve a critical matter.”

Sometimes, a male’s risk-taking approach is necessary, or a female’s intuition may be the way to go in certain situations. God created us with different strengths and weaknesses for a reason as we all complement each other.”

“Engineering is fundamental in achieving a sustainable tomorrow. Women need to be part of that vehicle to have a world that better represents everyone. Together we can create a world that is in harmony with our planet and brighter for our future generations.” – Kathy concluded.


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