Cape Town – In the latest of our entrepreneur profiles, Fix Forward is proud to introduce Jenna Ohlson – one of the first woman to join our ever-growing team of skilled trade professionals. Jenna took time out of her very busy schedule to answer a few of our questions about joining the team, breaking through in a male dominated industry and what she does to unwind, amongst other things.
Fix Forward (FF): Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Jenna! Could you tell us a bit more about your where you’re from and your background in the plumbing profession?
Owning my own plumbing company has been my dream since the age of 14 when I would accompany my dad’s plumbers to jobs and soon developed a passion for plumbing myself. Growing up with a father who has been self-employed all his life since qualifying as a plumber 60 years ago , this was the way of life.
My dream became more realistic after I had completed my studies as a Plumber in 2012 and went on to study Business management in 2013 and 2014 ,while working for a Construction company as a Junior Quantity Surveyor. The knowledge, determination, guidance and amazing relationship that stemmed from this experience impacted my life forever.
One day I decided that I had to move on to the next level of my life – I was working for the sake of working and had no passion for what I did; I knew I was destined to be my own boss, to live my passion and use what I had studied hard for to my own advantage. So one day in 2016, I resigned and enrolled at the Centre For Entrepreneurship’s Business Management course and the next chapter of my life began!
While getting JIG Plumbing off the ground I worked at a Construction company from 2016 to 2017 gaining knowledge in working with and prioritising the different trades required to renovate and repair fire damaged homes and insurance claims. During this time I also completed a solar installation plumbing course funded by the Institute of Plumbing South Africa.
After being nominated as a De Beers initiative beneficiary in 2017, I was able to buy the vehicle, material and equipment I needed for my business to really take off!
FF: How did you come to join Fix Forward?
A friend at the Centre for Entrepreneurship suggested I contact Fix Forward and explained that they were looking to help create exposure for small businesses such as my own.
FF: Congratulations on being one of Fix Forward’s first woman trade professionals! Have you faced any challenges climbing the ranks in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
Thank you! I am both honoured and humbled to be one of Fix Forward’s first females on board. I find that people are always surprised when they come to learn I am a plumber or they may underestimate my abilities – which is frustrating to say the least. However, in the construction industry, work is scarce and opportunities are few, so you need to be resilient.
Being a female business owner in this industry you need to be extra tough – physically, mentally and emotionally. My goal is to be the best at what I do and to prove to people that a female can do the job even better!
FF: What are your areas of expertise?
Plumbing, Solar Installations, Quantity Surveying and Project Management. I have extensive experience ensuring a project sticks within budget, is on time and adheres to the client’s specifications. Besides plumbing being my passion, I have a love for construction as a whole. Project Management and Quantity Surveying go hand-in-hand when running your own company so I hope to soon further my studies in Construction Supervision.
FF: How do you unwind outside of work? What are you passionate about?
Now that I am living my dream, I relax by walking alone on the beach to admire the outdoors or taking my dogs for long walks in the forest. Weekends are all about family time and I love getting out and about with my daughter and husband.
FF: What are your goals professionally and how do you see those being achieved with Fix Forward?
My goal is to have two teams of reliable and professional plumbers and an administrative assistant working for me full time within the next two years. After that, I’ll able to focus more on the business aspects and growing the company to provide opportunity to more plumbers. I am hoping that through Fix Forward I will receive a steady flow of work to accelerate my vision and help me become a better entrepreneur holistically so that I may reach my full potential.
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