2019 IW Winners

Tradeswoman of the Year - Sudbury

Vicki Grant

Vicki Grant

Vicki Grant’s favourite saying is: “If you want to do it, you can do it.”

This motto has driven the Sudbury, Ont.-based electrical apprentice’s approach to life and work.

Grant was raised in New Brunswick and moved back to Sudbury in elementary school. As she finished high school, she knew she wanted to work in the trades but didn’t know where.

“In high school they push you towards picking something before you graduate,” said Grant. “I decided to do welding because one of my family members is involved.”

She wound up loving it and excelled. Unfortunately, bad luck struck in the first year of her budding career: Grant was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, a wrist condition exacerbated by the vibration of the grinders used in welding.

Undeterred, she thought about what else she might want to do, and went back to school to become a personal support worker. She spent four years in the field, finding the work challenging and rewarding. But she missed the trades.

After some thought and research, she enrolled in Collège Boréal’s electrical program. In some ways, it was a return to a field she’d always been interested in.

“When I was in high school we had a robotics class,” said Grant. “I remember that interested me.” Sure enough, it was the perfect fit, and when she graduated in 2011, she dove into the workforce, moving around the province and country for opportunities. She finds being back in the trades both a relief and a reward, even when she’s often the only woman onsite.

“I absolutely love being in the trades. I talk to a lot of girls and they’re always afraid, and, you know, it’s not as bad as most people say it is or think it is,” said Grant. “Everyone is so easygoing. If you ask questions they’re there to help you.”

That’s not to say it’s always easy, but Grant thrives in tough environments. “I like the challenge. You still have your old school guys who don’t think women belong in the trades, and I was always the one who said, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong,’” she said.

These days, Grant works at Ionic Engineering, which designs and builds control systems, special purpose machines, and complete automation systems. The company’s work serves a variety of industries, including metals, mining and mineral processing; oil and gas; pulp and paper; and automotive. In her role there, Grant often gets to use both her electrical and welding experience, going over small things the robots might miss.

“Working at Ionic it’s something different every day; it’s not repetitive,” said Grant. “I love that it’s new technology. It’s pretty much what the future’s going to be like.”

Grant thrives on keeping busy, so when she’s not building robots or learning new technologies, Grant lets loose like so many other Northern Ontarians: hunting, fishing, camping, and quadding.

In the coming months she’ll become fully licensed, and plans to learn more about programming the robots she builds. If the rest of her career is any indication, she’ll excel at those, too: because when Grant wants to do something, she does it.