The trades can take you places you have never been before, including an international skilled trades competition!
Tune in to this episode of Learnings and Missteps with Louise Azzopardi, a heavy vehicle mechanic turned life coach, mentor, and motivational speaker based in Sydney, Australia.
Louise was the first woman to compete in Heavy Vehicle Mechanics at the WorldSkills International Competition. If anyone knows the value of discovering what you don’t know, it’s Louise.
What started as a career in the trades evolved into using her experience to support other tradeswomen in overcoming self-doubt and feeling confident in everything they do.
If you remember one thing from this conversation, remember this bit of wisdom: Every choice can be a good choice and every option can be a good option.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
· Louise’s unique journey into the trades.
· What it’s like to transition from high school to an apprenticeship in heavy vehicle mechanics.
· Tips and advice for apprentices learning a new trade.
· How everything you accomplish (and don’t accomplish) is because of your mindset.
· Did earning potential influence your decision to enter the trades vs. college?
· Louise’s experience competing at the WorldSkills Competition.
· College vs. Trades: Which is the better option?
· Navigating imposter syndrome, sexual harassment, and sexism as a woman in the trades.
· What led Louise to become a life coach.
Louise has two Learnings and Missteps: You’re still worthy despite your “mistakes” & Look before you do something.
“Don’t waste your time pretending to know everything because that’s preventing you from learning everything.” – Louise Azzopardi
This episode’s show notes were written by Kayla MacEachern
To connect, email her firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Louise:
Visit her website: http://louiseazzopardi.com
Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/louise-azzopardi-699072126
Read more on the Learnings and Missteps Blog: https://www.depthbuilder.com/blog
WorldSkills Competition: https://worldskills.org
Engage with a community of Industry Professionals focused on expanding their leadership skills: https://www.depthbuilder.com/emotional-bungee-jumpers
Get yourself a sample of the Lean & Love Reflection Guide with journal prompts that help you focus on your most important relationships: https://www.depthbuilder.com/reflection-guide
Check out my NEW book, Lean & Love – 5S Love Letters: A #NoBS Look Into How Your Relationships Create #RipplesOfImpact at https://www.depthbuilder.com/5s
For all other links and resources, check out my Bio Link: http://depthbuilder.bio.link
You get an opportunity, you capitalize on the damn thing. How did you go from, from mechanics to life coach? What was, what was the connectionsLouise:
there? Yeah, so during the competition, it had already kind of started like that. There was something else. Ah, and like one of the, like one of the things for me is like looking around, like I'm on quote unquote on top of the world here. Oh yeah. Where are all the other women? Where, where are they?
all right. So we're coming back at you with the second half of the Louise conversation. And this segment has the significant learning as a result of a painful misstep from it. And guys, if y'all take in, when I say guys, I mean, men, if you take anything from this conversation, What I hope you take is that we can do better. Because we can, it is within us. To support, promote. Amplify encourage the women that are entering in the trades and it's our responsibility. Uh, so step it up, man. Here we go to Ms. Louise.Louise:
Where like, and I was asking around other male dominated competitions, you know, whatever. And the, and my competition was kind of like, wow, we've got, like, we've, we've beat everyone in like terms of the first girl and stuff. I'm like, why? Why is that a competition? Why am I the first girl where like, it's 2017 guys. Where, where are the other women? YoJesse:
shit, 2017. And you're the first woman to compete at the world, the international competition withLouise:
with heavy vehicle mechanics. And I think at that time there hadn't been any female light vehicle competitors either. So that was a different competition, but in their stream, I don't think they had any women at that level. Spray painting is, I think the most, like the male dominated one with the most women in it at the moment. at the international level. And a lot of them have taken out. Metals. Nice. Um, there, but yeah, I was kind of like, where are all the other women? like at the beginning I was probably my most confident in my first year in terms of, I didn't have any imposter syndrome. I didn't think, like, I was like, what is this sexist thing? Like that doesn't exist. Everyone treats me equally, kind of thing. Yeah. But then as I moved through it, yeah. And let's be honest, as a female in a trade, some of the guys treat you a bit more like an object rather than a person. Sure. So I started coming across that, and then that started creeping into myself that, as you know, as a, as a teenage girl, you've got all those things that usually girls are going through in high school, body image, all that kind of stuff. Oh, oh, yeah. And I was going through that in a mechanic's workshop. Yeah. And like we know how men talk when they all get together. And that was kind of like what I was picking up on at that age. So that all kind of started going in, and then I ended up making it out the other side. Like, I'll be honest with you, I did become suicidal during my apprenticeship just because I was just like, this is too much. Can't handle it. And that's not uncommon. It's not uncommon for the guys and the girls. it's, it's a lot to go through that kind of, that phase of your life where you're so, um, easily imprinted in an environment that can be so harsh for even the adults. Very harsh. Yes. Yeah. So even like coming, there was the thought like, where are the women? Like why is this so hard? Like, why are we treated so badly? Why do I have all these thoughts? What's going on with my mental health? Why don't tradies get any professional development? Like, I was starting to have all of those questions and like previously, before the competition all started, um, where I had been working, had taken on a deaf apprentice. So I was about a third year and he was coming in a mature age apprentice deaf first year. And I don't know sign language, but I remember this instance where I was teaching him how to do a bearing roll. So underneath a truck we were lying on the floor, lying on the car, on cardboard, and I was teaching him how to change the bearings in the engine and we couldn't talk to each other cuz he didn't speak. He was nonverbal, we couldn't hear nothing. Um, so we were writing down, pointing, like all that kind of stuff. And I taught him how to do this job underneath the truck without being able to. Communicate like typically with him. And I just remember that feeling of being like, shit. Like, look at me passing on this knowledge that I've learnt Yes. To someone I can't even talk to. Like it was just like an amazing feeling. And that thought of that feeling had stuck with me through all of these experiences, like the mental health challenges that, that teaching feeling. Yes. And I had learned all these things and by that time I had a few friends, you know, commit suicide, all that, that kind of friends, you know, leave the industry cuz of harassment, the suicide, the, you know, I can't do this. Like I'm gonna go get an easier job where I don't have it that much pressure. And that's where I started. I become a trainer and assessor. Um, so I was a technical teacher. I was working for the Caterpillar dealer, um, in my area. then like through that as well, like I was like, look, I'm teaching, like this is the formal position of people who like to teach, do, right? Yep, yep, yep. But even in that, it was kind of like, no, there's more like The students, like I remember like just coaching them on their personal life before they could even be in a headspace to take in any technical information. And they didn't feel like they could talk to their supervisors. They didn't feel like they could talk to their managers. They didn't feel like they could talk to hr, like all that kind of stuff. And I'm like, so who's doing that? And during Covid, I discovered the world of coaching and like the online business side of things and that kind of thing, and all the webinars and professional development. And I'm like, so who's doing this for tradies? And then I'm looking around and like, well, no one. Yeah. So I was like, cool, let's, let's see if we can do this.Jesse:
Of course you did. And then you just started doing it?Louise:
Yeah, so I ended up leaving full-time. So I had already been asked to speak at different events and like kind of run workshops and stuff like that. Um, from previous mentors and connections who had seen me come through the, the world skills. So world skills kind of gave me a bigger network, a pretty big platform. Um, a lot of kind of merit to my name. Yep. So I was getting kind of opportunities organically without trying, and then it was kinda like, oh, I actually like this part of running workshops and inspiring. Um, so I ended up leaving full-time work and then going and becoming a contractor for training and assessment and then starting working on whatever this would look like. So kind of now it looks like one-on-one coaching. It looks like running workshops and it looks like speaking at events, doing like keynotes and seminars,Jesse:
how uncomfortable. Was getting your pricing established.Louise:
Oh, it's still, it's, let's be honest, we're still in it.Jesse:
It's like mm-hmm. It's, it's this funky thing. Right. For me, serving people, helping people, sharing the gifts that I've been blessed with is extremely fulfilling. Mm-hmm. Um, to be able to do this full-time requires a certain type of pricing. Mm-hmm. Um, and also the impact that, that it has meaning on a person's life or multiple people's life is deep and important. But it still doesn't, like, it's still like, man, I'm not you, this pricing thing, I'm really not. Like, what I really, really need is like a manager to represent me and, and set my pricing and they have all those conversations and I just show up and do the thing. Wouldn't that be better?Louise:
That, that, that's the goal, but for now, we gotta keep doing that ourselves.Jesse:
Yes. Well, congratulations on, man. It's a amazing, amazing path. So, and so that's all of this has happened in what, 12, 13 years?Louise:
Yeah, about 12 years. So I started working full-time in 2012, but I started looking for a job in 2011. So that's kind of really, I see like that 2011 trial and error to get my job as the start. So it's been about 12 years.Jesse:
Oh my goodness. That's like lightning speed. so in this 12 to 13 year timeframe, I imagine you've made some missteps mm-hmm. That you've learned, had some big lessons from. So would you mind sharing like one of those significant missteps that left a mark on you forever, but that you carry forward and help you experience the quality of life that you're having now?Louise:
Yeah, so I'll share, I'll share two, one of them's quick. So one time I was, you know, Keenan and young and you know, know how to do everything, go and do some overtime for some easy cash. And I put on this sump and the sump had a rail around it. So the oil pan and it had a rail around it and I thought it was symmetrical. I was wrong. So I put it up, tightened a bolt, and there was this big crack. I pulled it down, cracked in half, you know, and I'm looking at it and it says front in big letters on it, like, I don't think it could have been any bigger. Yeah. So, you know, go to my supervisor, he's like, oh, we'll sort it out in the morning. I found out that there was none of these rails in the country, so, you know, had to see that bus there for a few weeks while that come in. So that really got stuck in there. Yes. So just that simple thing of like looking before you do something, you know,Jesse:
that'll stick with you. Yeah,Louise:
that'll stick with, yeah. Yeah. So another like more, not as funny. Um, but when I was a first, when I was a first year apprentice, like, like I said, 15, you know, Most of the other guys, 15, 16, you know, 18, all that kind of stuff. And there was another, a male apprentice and I ended up getting into a relationship with him. He was same year apprenticeship as me and he had told me to keep it a secret cause he didn't want it to affect work. Okay. So I was like, awesome, cool. Whatever we like. We ended it, whatever. A few years later I had started hearing rumors and one of the girls come up to me and she's like, did you hook up with this guy? He's going around and telling everyone that he got you. And like just having like, I was probably like 18 when they had come to the, SO 15 when the relationship had happened, 18 when it all come to the surface. And he had been going around telling everyone that he had got me. So I was like, in my head, I was like, I'm part of the problem of why people think women get into the trades to get with guys. I was like, that's what I was telling myself over and over again. I'm part of the problem. I'm part of the problem. And that's part of the, the cause that had ended up me being like, leading to be suicidal. from there I had like, you know, started building my confidence back up, like just, you know, focusing on my work, building up, back up. And then I ended up becoming really good friends with one of the guys in the workshop. And I was like, no, look, this is evidence. People respect me as a person. Like, I've got this really good friend, like, you know, back up kind of thing. And then one of the guys, like another mechanic had come and said, oh, you're just gonna do it all again, like, what you did in first year, you're gonna do it all again. And I was like, no, I'm not. Like, I'm just friends with this guy. And I was like, cool. He's my friend. I'll, I'll ask him. Like, you know, in case he's been saying anything. And he's like, oh yeah. Like, also another thing I, I missed that I forgot to say is, so he, the first year guy, he was like, oh, don't tell anyone. Because like we don't want it to affect work. I found out that he had a girlfriend the whole time. Ah, a bit later on.Jesse:
Yeah. Yeah. No,Louise:
that's surprise. Yeah. Yep. So that, that, that in there too. Um, so Yep. Fast forward a few years later, asked my mate and I was like, look, this is what this guy's saying. Like, like what, what do you have to say about, he's like, oh yeah, like I actually would want to like, kind of go out with you, whatever. And like, you know, be the same as like you were in first year referencing that he had a girlfriend and he was planning on keeping her and then like having me on the side. But this was like a work colleague that had like built my confidence back up in myself as a mechanic. And then it all just started going downhill again. I was like, yeah, I'm part of the problem. Like I think I have friends, but then these guys are saying these kinds of things to me. Like all these rumors are going around. Like, just because I did this thing in first year where I fought like, you know, the teenage where you think you know everything. Yep. Um, part of that. Um, but going from there and then I was just, you know, over and over again, I'm part of the problem. I'm part of the problem and you know, I obviously, I pulled myself back out of it. I had mentors and friends that helped pick me up again. Yeah. But just realizing like in that, like, you know, if a girl asked me like, should I go out with a guide work? Like, I'm like, my recommendation is, is no. But honestly I have friends who are now married with kids, with guys they work with. Mm-hmm. So my kind of thing from that is you do whatever you think is right in the moment, like we all do. But even if it is quote unquote a mistake, you are still worthy. Like it doesn't affect your trade, it doesn't affect your technical skills. It doesn't affect whether or not you should be here. Like yeah, you had a relationship that fell apart and you just happened to work together. That that, that's it. Whereas like, so like we get so much shame from that. Like I feel like I, like I still feel it a bit like it was just so strong for me back then and all the shame that I put onto myself, like saying I'm part of the problem, but really like this just happened. You are two consenting adults. This is what happened. And no, you're still a good mechanic. You're still a good electrician, you're still good at whatever you do. Like yeah, you made a relationship mistake. It doesn't mean anything about you. Yeah. And if youJesse:
should be here, oh, I love it. You're still worthy a hundred. Hundred percent. And there's all kinds of people with all kinds of education. They're making dumb relationship decisions, right? Like, and some of us make the same one over and over and over, over, like, to practice.Louise:
That's it. But it doesn't affect your skill. Like I've like another kind of, not, not my, like it wasn't, it's not a mishap really, but I've got, I've had two girls that have come through my coaching and they returned to work after having kids. Mm. So they're, they're both electricians actually. And they're like, oh, my kid's sick people are gonna think I'm shit at my job. And I'm like, no. Like, your technical knowledge doesn't fall out of your e if your kid needs to be picked up from preschool. Like,Jesse:
but that's how we respond, right? Like, yeah. That's how we think. I say we, because I've, I've had a lot of, um, experience with the legal system. Mm-hmm. Right. So, made some decisions. Very selfish, very short-sighted decisions that kept me in trouble with the law for a lot of my years. And yes, I needed to change my behavior so I wouldn't be getting arrested anymore. But it didn't all of a sudden mean that all the knowledge I had spilled out when they had the handcuffs on me. I still had that know, and I'm grateful for that. Right? Like, I'm grateful that the experience and the knowledge and and all that stuff didn't get taken away from me, cuz it's like the most valuable thing. Um, but in my head I was less than. But that's why when you said you're still worthy, like that landed because it took, it took a few reps for me to actually figure out that, okay, this is not, these things aren't, I'm, I'm the connection point, but they're not connected. One doesn't devalue the other one. I just need to get my head, my stuff worked out. So twoLouise:
things, like two things can exist at the same time. Like, yeah, you can be in trouble with the law, but yet you can still be like a really great plumber. Like those two aren't mutually exclusive.Jesse:
A hundred percent. Oh, man, you're making me feel better. Thank you. You must.Louise:
Yeah, it's my job.Jesse:
Oh, that's so perfect. I love it. Oh my goodness. All right, Louise. So the closing question is, and I, oh, I re I'm really, really looking forward to your response. What footprint do you intend to leave on the world?Louise:
Mm-hmm. I think that every choice can be a good choice. Every option can be a good option. That's, that's it. Like, I think in my, in my time, I spend a lot of the time saying, No, I don't wanna be a housewife. That's, that's a bad option. But it's not, it's just an option that wasn't for me. And because I felt like I was almost like society was forcing me into that option. I made it a bad option. Ah. But it's not, it's just an option. Some people wanna do that and some people don't.Jesse:
Yeah. So they're neutral and we get to make 'em, or not.Louise:
You get to choose them. You get to choose like the, the Muslim, like this is an area that I have experience in, but I know they have a lot of, you know, everyone has a thought about it, but Muslim women who wear the hijab, yes. That's an option. They shouldn't mean anything about them as a person. It's just you do well, youJesse:
don't, yeah. Yep. Oh yeah. That's a whole lot. That's a whole kinda world That's a thing. The stuff that, like the expectations that, so on one hand I know I'm guilty of imposing my expectations on people, right? I, I, I do that. What I'm more guilty of is accepting the expectations of others. Mm-hmm. Right. And posing pressure on myself because of what I think other people might be thinking. Mm-hmm. And like those things I have control over, like other people's expectations. I really don't. But really, where does all the pressure and the static come from? It comes from from me. Mm-hmm. Like I'm doing it to myself, um,Louise:
oh my God as well. Like with trades, college first trades both good options. It's just what option is good for you right now?Jesse:
Oh, amazing. So no judgment. Either way. Pick the one that feels best and and roll with it. And if it don't work, you could change your mind later. Huh?Louise:
That's it. You can, we've just solved all world problems.Jesse:
Oh my goodness. So, miss Louise, is there anybody, any folks out there that you wanna give a shout out to show some love and recognition for their contribution to your.Louise:
Yeah. So my parents for having my back. Mm-hmm. My siblings, so I'm the oldest of four. My siblings were putting up with mom, taking me to or from work while I didn't have my license. Yep, yep. And my, so one of my best friends at the moment and my original first mentor, he was the one who had faith in me. He was on the interview panel when I come in as a 15 year old girl applying for a heavy vehicle apprenticeship. And he said, yeah, let's give her a shot. Now, 12 years later, he is one of my best mates and yeah. To him for giving me that first shot.Jesse:
Yes. And I'm grateful to him as well. And though, and all the folks that you just shouted out to, because I mean, your story, current state is like, oh my goodness, that's like super, super fancy, awesome, life coached international competitor, but it wasn't, it's not a highlight reel. Right. Like you've overcome some tremendous, uh, Issues with within yourself and with like real life stuff that you've continued to persevere. Um, and I think, again, I think you're a phenomenal ambassador example for not just women, but for craft professionals, period. Mm-hmm. About what can happen, like what the potential that we have within ourselves that we can access by being in the right environment, which in our case is the trades. Yes. Oh my goodness. Well, I appreciate you very much Miss Louise. Did you have fun?Louise:
Yes. It was a good chat.Jesse:
It, it was, it was. Well, I appreciate you making the time last minute short notice. Now I know why it was so easy for you to say yes because this is nothing compared to being asked to. A week before the competition, so you're like, yeah, small potatoes, let's have a call. No big deal.
Well, there you have it. Ms. Lewis and I have solved all the world's problems. They're all decisions or neutral. It's just a matter of what we decide of what we pick, what we choose, what we learn and what we do with it going forward. It's kind of a joke. I don't think we saw all the world's problems. I don't know if you cut that there at the end, I got super lucky to be able to interview her. More for, she went on her world tour. Um, I know she, she brings a lot to the world and I'm sure there's a lot of people pulling on her time and I'm grateful to miss Louise. For making the time and sharing her amazing story with you guys. And if the energy in this conversation leaves you wanting more. And you ain't scared of having a mind shifting experience. I invite you to check out emotional bungee jumpers. There's a little video on the website right now. The links down in the notes. Click on that bad boy, watch the videos. You can get an idea of what the emotional bungee jumpers is about. And I promise you, it is a mind shifting experience, Remember sharing is caring. Be cool. And we'll talk at you next time. Man, you are one dedicated listener sticking with us all the way through to the very, very end. Please know that this podcast dies without you, and we invite you to share how the episode's impacting you, along with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions. You have been gracious with your times, so we added social media links in the show notes to make it super easy for you to connect with us. Be kind to yourself. Stay cool and we'll talk at you next time.
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