From fixing equipment on the farm with her father, to becoming the first woman in the Kenworth dealer network to achieve Kenworth Certified Master Technician status, Jennifer Lesnik always knew she had the skillset to work on heavy equipment as a profession.
Jennifer’s story touches on two of my personal hot buttons: women in the industry, and the need for more skilled tradespeople instead of pushing every kid to go to a four-year college.
“Growing up on a farm, my family didn’t use outside help when equipment broke down. We would fix it ourselves,” Lesnik says. “I enjoyed learning from my dad how to work on equipment, getting my hands dirty, and solving problems on my own. I knew early on that I wanted a job that would involve fixing things.”
So Lesnik decided to pursue a career servicing trucks, starting out in 2007 with the Edmonton Kenworth group as a dealer service technician.
“My grandfather owned a trucking company, so trucks were always around growing up. I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer power trucks produce, plus I love the way they look. Especially the traditional long hoods. The trucking industry seemed like the right field to enter and I was right. I couldn’t be happier with the work I do.”
What it Takes to be a Master Technician
Now in her 12th year as a service technician, working at several Edmonton Kenworth dealer locations, Lesnik has achieved Kenworth’s highest service certification – Kenworth Master Technician. She becomes the fourth Kenworth Master Technician in the Edmonton Kenworth dealer group.
Becoming a Kenworth Master Technician requires completing a comprehensive training system that includes classroom, online and self-study components, and must show they have mastered the skills needed to successfully perform all diagnostics, repair, and maintenance procedures to keep customers’ vehicles running their best. It is estimated that it takes more than 570 hours to complete all coursework and training to earn the special certification, on top of the 6,000 hours of training that is required to become a Licensed Journeyman Heavy Equipment Technician in Canada.
As a Kenworth Master Technician, Lesnik will respond to disabled trucks within a 160-kilometer radius of Edmonton Kenworth – Leduc, driving a medium-duty Kenworth service truck equipped with all the tools she needs to diagnose and fix a majority of the mechanical issues trucks may have on the spot.
Kenworth Master Technicians attend to customers without the benefit of working with a team; the expectation is at this level, they have the knowledge they need to efficiently provide service to their customers and answer any maintenance-related questions they may have.
Working in a Male-Dominated Industry
In a male-dominated industry, Lesnik often finds she is the only woman in the workplace. “Every so often, I’ll meet with a customer and they will have a surprised look on their face when they see me,” Lesnik says. “I don’t think it’s on purpose, it’s just that there are so few women that work in our industry. But once I get to work, they soon realize that I know my way around a truck and are appreciative of the work that I’m doing.”
In Lesnik’s spare time, she volunteers with Careers: Young Women in Trades & Technology, attending career fairs to educate young women about the opportunities that are available as a service technician in the trucking industry. Once a year, through this group, Edmonton Kenworth – Leduc hosts students interested in the industry to get a first-hand look at what service technicians do. Lesnik sees it as an opportunity to demystify the common misperceptions surrounding women working in the industry. According to Lesnik, her mother’s support was influential in her decision to pursue a career that was known to be a “man’s profession,” so Lesnik wanted to offer her support to young women that may be interested in becoming technicians.
“It’s easy for girls to assume that working on trucks is a skillset only men have, but that simply isn’t true,” said Lesnik. “My mom’s support gave me the confidence to enter the field and prove I’m good at what I do. I want to encourage young women that they can be successful in this industry.”