We’re celebrating Women’s History Month this March by introducing you to 10 women who help power your life at Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. They advance our company with their vision, talent, hard work and creativity. These trailblazing women – including a nuclear engineer, astrophysicist and lineman – reveal inspiring stories of persistence, pluck and achievement in largely male-dominated fields. A diverse workplace isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a competitive necessity. Today, meet Suzy Macke, a lineman based in Hamlet, Ohio.
How did you end up in this career?
I’m not a cubicle kind of girl. I grew up working on my family farm in New Mexico, and I owned my own landscaping business. I love the outdoors. I need to be outside. One day my husband told me Duke Energy was hiring linemen. I knew it was a good job, so I submitted my resume online and was invited to take the aptitude test. It was mostly math, geometry and mechanical questions and I scored well. Then I took the field assessment test and failed it. I did horribly.
What did the field test involve?
A lot of physical skills. You have to drive a 3-inch lag bolt into a wooden pole with a hammer, then drill a hole in the pole with a brace and bit. Then you have to dig a hole in the ground of a certain width to put the pole into. It took me longer to finish than anyone else. But the assessor was impressed that I never quit.
If you failed that test, how did you get hired?
If it’s something I really want to do I’m going to pursue it until I get it. And I wanted that job. So I sought out a friend of mine who is a personal trainer. He set me up with an exercise routine to increase my strength, agility and endurance. I worked out for an entire year until they were hiring again. I applied again, and this time … I aced that field skills test. After that, I went through two panel interviews and got hired.
What’s an average day like?
There is no average day, which I love. On any given day I could be climbing an 85-foot pole with 35 pounds of gear and working on high-voltage power lines or fixing day-to-day problems on our system.
Why do you do what you do?
The look on people’s faces when I turn their power back on after a storm is amazing. Hearing kids cheer from an upstairs window when you turn the lights back on at night ... there’s nothing like it. I love being able to help people. I’m not a cop or a firefighter, but I’m a first responder making a real difference in the community.
What do kids think when you tell them what you do?
They think it’s the neatest thing in the world. And you know what? They’re right.
“The look on people’s faces when I turn their power back on after a storm is amazing.”
Click here to meet our other extraordinary employees at Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas.