Returning Liebherr electrical apprentice Oliver Powell couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he graced the corridors of his Mount Thorley branch this morning.
It had been a month to the day since he had received the Liebherr Australia Group’s ‘2018 Apprentice of the Year’ award.
However such was the jubilation as he was greeted by his mentors, including service manager Mark Angel and proud HR Advisor Colleen Avis, that you’d be excused if you thought the ceremony had taken place overnight.
“To receive all this praise means a lot to be honest,” he explained.
“I’ve always wanted to be an electrician and all the boys on site have been more than happy for me with this award so it’s been unreal.”
The national honour also comes with additional tooling and a $1000 travel voucher.
Nevertheless it was the 23-year-old’s journey in the lead up to the crowning which typifies its significance.
The Cessnock born Powell moved to Canberra in 2014 to pursue his Rugby League dreams while starring for Raiders’ Cup side West Belconnen.
Sadly, his season would be marred by injury leaving him to require a knee reconstruction.
He would return home the following year and commence his Hunter Valley training employment with host company Liebherr.
“I can still remember my first week up here like it was yesterday,” he added.
“What caught my eye was just how big the equipment was to be honest and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Powell was recognised as the regional apprentice of the year at the end of 2017 and travelled to Adelaide as a national nominee.
He would return home empty handed.
Then came the 2018 ceremony leading to another visit to the city of churches.
“I was obviously nervous because the year before I thought that I had done so well in the interview but then I missed out on the national award,” he said.
“I thought ‘If I didn’t get it this year then I would have been disappointed’ so I wanted the ceremony over and done with.”
Thankfully, he would prevail.
“I didn’t even hear them say my name at first but when everyone started looking at me I thought I better walk out and accept the award.”
The prestigious award also comes as a major confidence booster at academic level as he prepares for his TAFE capstone exams while studying his Civil Construction certificate.
He will now help assist with the development of Liebherr’s new batch of apprentices and offers the following tips in advance:
1. Listening skills
“Listen to all the tradesmen, I do a lot of work with the electrical tradesmen so it’s important to listen to those guys because they can teach you many skills.”
2. Extra efforts
“Make sure you do the extra efforts, my partner’s father is a domestic electrician so I’d take the time on the weekends to assist him.
If I didn’t do that in my own time then I would have had to spend three months away from Liebherr.”
“Most importantly, enjoy what you do.”