Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Terrie-Ann Bennett shines in a man's world

Published:Sunday | March 1, 2015 | 3:01 PMNashauna Lalah
As a child Terrie-Ann Bennett was always interested in how things worked and spent her time taking small appliances apart.
Bennett leaning against a wall of cabinets that house the ‘mind’ of LIME’s mobile network
Terrie-ann checking the ‘mind’ of LIME’s mobile network.
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As a child, Terrie-Ann Bennett was always interested in how things worked. She spent her time playing with old radios and small appliances. Today, she still can still be found 'playing' - albeit with more complicated technology; and now she gets paid to do that as transmission design engineer at LIME.

Did she always want to be an engineer? "In high school, I was drawn to the sciences, and in high school, I did all the science subjects to keep my options open. My dream job was to become a pilot (I like seeing things from above)," Bennett told Flair. "Things changed when I realised that I had to make my aspirations match the job market and my pocket. I then decided that engineering was the field for me."

While studying at UTech (University of Technology), and being exposed to various areas of engineering, the telecoms field began to seem like the natural choice for her career. Today,

Bennett is not looking back. "I absolutely love what I do and I am happy with the choice I made."

Bennett has been with LIME (formerly Cable and Wireless Jamaica) for more than 13 years in various technical posts. Today, she is part of the team that designs the transmission network, sources and purchases telecommunications equipment (fibre optic or microwave) and oversees the company's implementation, or the upgrade of other transmission equipment in the network.

Over the years, the Clarendon native has always been the only woman on her technical team. In her class at university, she was one of only three women, so on her job, she doesn't feel out of place. As she told Flair: "Cable and Wireless has an established code of ethics, and for this reason, it is known that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. If while working I get any hint of gender discrimination, I would let it be known that in this organisation, I am an employee first, just as everyone else. However, throughout my tenure at LIME, I have always been treated like one of the boys."

According to Bennett, the most rewarding part of her job is knowing how many people benefit from what she does, and her toughest days are her best.

"I actually love tough days. These usually include providing design support for an outage or staying awake for up to 72 hours to complete an equipment cutover/upgrade to ensure that our customers are happy. Though outages are not desirable, it is during these periods that you learn and grow most professionally. Your skills are also tested so you can evaluate and make improvements in preparation for the next event, with the aim of being better.

"At the end of tough days, I feel a sense of accomplishment, not just because the task is now complete, but because I know that what I achieved had a huge impact on our customers."

At the end of a tough day, the St Catherine High School past student unwinds by spending quality time with her husband "anywhere, but preferably at a beach". She also enjoys watching tennis or reading Spanish novels. Bennett is proficient in conversational Spanish and is currently completing the 12th and final level of Spanish classes at the Venezuelan Institute of Culture and Cooperation.

"I see myself growing in the ever-changing, ever-improving telecommunications industry, and keeping up with technology through an improved knowledge base and expanded capabilities. I will also continue with volunteerism. I have been a consistent volunteer with two different organisations for up to seven years," she said. "I am currently a director on the Board of the C&WJ Cooperative Credit Union, that serves over 64,000 members from 14 branches. I am also a member of the Education and Executive committees. I first served with this organisation's Supervisory Committee. Secondly, at LIME, I am the representative for my peers at my location on the Executive Committee of our management union JTC-EASA."

Bennett encourages everyone to seek out opportunities to help others.

"You will never know true happiness until you have worked tirelessly to help your countrymen without monetary reward, and you actually see the impact it had on their lives. Try it."