Breaking Barriers: An Electrician's Journey to Entrepreneurship and Empowering Women in Trades
MCJ Skilled Labor Series with Tonya Hicks
This episode is part of our new Skilled Labor Series hosted by MCJ partner, Yin Lu. This series is focused on amplifying the voices of folks from the skilled labor workforce, including electricians, farmers, ranchers, HVAC installers, and others who are on the front lines of rewiring our infrastructure.
Our next guest is Tonya Hicks, President and CEO of Power Solutions and Managing Principle of Women Do Everything, LLC.
Tonya is a serial entrepreneur, a single mom of two boys, and a wireman electrician in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). She became the first woman to attain the status of inside journeyman wireman in the IBEW Local 917 in her hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, and the first African American woman to become an IBEW journeyman electrician in the State of Mississippi.
Tonya’s primary electrician job started in industrial environments, working in paper mills, steel mills, and car plants. She then specialized in robotics and high-voltage equipment installation and repair. In 2000 at age 28, Tonya founded Power Solutions, Inc. an electrical contracting company. Tonya is also the founder of Women Do Everything, which supports women in blue-collar, male-dominated industries to help them grow, connect, and thrive.
“I've gotten to know Tonya over the last few months after we were introduced, and she's one of the most humble, hardworking, and inspirational people I've ever met.” - Yin Lu
In this episode, Tonya shares her background in mathematics and switch to electrical work. We also learn how she started her company, its international footprint, and her challenges as a black woman in a male-dominated industry. Yin and Tonya cover different types of electricians plus the union vs. non-union experience for people interested in the space. Finally, they talk about the electrician shortage, the impacts of the IRA on electrical work, and Tonya’s other inspiring endeavors.
In this episode, we cover:
[2:18] Tonya's background in electrical work
[6:35] The education path to becoming an electrician
[8:46] Gender and racial disparities in the trades and electrical work specifically
[12:37] How Tonya started her own company called Power Solutions and grew her business
[21:44] Power Solutions' footprint in Georgia and internationally
[23:41] Different types of electricians and the union vs. non-union experience
[27:07] The electrician shortage
[27:54] An overview of Tonya's Women Do Everything organization
[31:32] The first Women's Summit and Career Expo on March 28-29 in Atlanta, Georgia
[35:45] Impacts of the IRA on electrical work
[38:28] Tonya's SHE EV company
Visit our website for a full transcript of this episode.
Yin Twitter / LinkedIn
Tonya Twitter / LinkedIn
MCJ Podcast / Collective
*You can also reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, where we encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.
Episode recorded on December 5, 2022.