Women in plumbing: Leading lady of the Institution

By Dineo Phoshoko

Contrary to popular belief, the plumbing industry is not only about men sorting out blocked drains, leaking taps or problematic water meters. Many opportunities in the plumbing industry do not revolve around the activity of plumbing itself, with many women capitalising on these.

Kaela 001 new webKaela Bell is the membership and communications administrator for the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA). Although she is not a plumber herself, Bell’s job is essential to the smooth operation of the organisation. “It is my responsibility to communicate with members and non-members alike. I manage all membership applications and recruit new members. I am also very involved with our digital media, such as our digital newsletter and design.” In addition, Bell is responsible for managing and planning all Gauteng events, with help from the Gauteng committee.

Coming from an entertainment background, Bell is still fairly new to the plumbing industry, as she only joined IOPSA at the beginning of 2017. “I was ready for a new challenge and the opportunity to be a part of making a difference to an industry was difficult to pass up,” she said. The eagerness to be challenged beyond her comfort zone further encouraged Bell to join the plumbing industry. “I wanted to learn and grow and IOPSA offered me that opportunity.”

Bell is not the only woman involved in the industry; when she joined, there was already a female presence at IOPSA. “Michelle van Rensburg, who is the national secretary for IOPSA, is a wealth of knowledge and in my opinion, a great asset to IOPSA,” she added. With reference to the male colleagues, Bell has nothing but praises for them and their reaction towards her. “I have received nothing but support and guidance within the organisation.”

“I was ready for a new challenge and the opportunity to be a part of making a difference to an industry was difficult to pass up.”

Although she has only been at the organisation (and industry) for a short period, the 25-year-old has already achieved a lot. “Within the brief time that I have been at IOPSA, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a few pilot projects and events that we have taken on; however, the greatest highlight would be the Gauteng Plumbers Evening, which was held at DPI. Being new to the industry, I was able to come in with new ideas and concepts and see things from a fresh perspective. The Plumbers Evening had never been held in such a format before and turned out to be a success.”

Any industry can be challenging and the plumbing industry is no different. Bell relied on the support of her colleagues to get through the tough times. “We really have built a great team and sometimes, even when times are stressful, we are still able to have a laugh together.” Working in a team environment is another aspect that Bell enjoys about her job, among other things.

As a young person new to the industry, Bell has lots to achieve and she has set many personal goals. “My main goal is to increase membership with IOPSA to the point where it is a standard for companies within the industry to be registered with IOPSA.” She has also observed positive changes taking place within the plumbing industry, including seeing people who are keen on upskilling themselves through the organisation.

Bell is one of many examples of women in the plumbing industry, even though some of them are not plumbers. This reflects the versatility of the industry and how it offers assorted opportunities for women. “The plumbing industry is not only for plumbers. There are many different fields within the plumbing industry to go into, and my advice to someone who is aspiring to work in this industry is to keep an open mind, be open to change as it is an ever-evolving industry, and work hard.”

* Image: Kaela Bell is a newcomer to the plumbing industry, but has already achieved so much.


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