Professional Pest Controller Magazine Issue 100

03 August 2020

Meet the member: Rising star at Pest Solutions

YOUR ASSOCIATION | PPC100 August 2020

BPCA’s Communications Officer Kat Shaw spoke to Gabrielle Hogg, trainee pest technician with Pest Solutions. One of the industry’s brilliant up-and-comers, we talk about her mentoring with BPCA’s Dee Ward-Thompson.

Meet the member Pest solutions and Gabrielle Hogg BPCA

Pest management, unsurprisingly, has long been a male-dominated field.

After a quick calculation of the employees in BPCA member companies stored on our database, we believe only around 4% of all staff are women and 66% of those are working in non-technical roles.

If we were to look at a national picture, including all non-member companies, I’m sure we would see a similar trend.

Bucking that trend is one of the newest recruits at Pest Solutions: trainee pest control technician Gabrielle Hogg.

Gabrielle joined the team at Pest Solutions in Glasgow during November 2019 and has already impressed both her colleagues and the technical team here at BPCA.

When asked how it felt to begin a career that is traditionally held by men, Gabrielle said:

“Customers do act surprised when they initially meet me, however I always receive great feedback.

“I often get asked why I chose pest control and, to the surprise of many, it’s because I have a love for animals.

“I wanted to start an Open University degree in environmental sciences and was eager to find a job that would relate to my learning.”

Currently working towards her Level 2 Award in Pest Management, Gabrielle says that the learning curve is steep but rewarding.

The knowledge I have gained has been immense, I have developed so many skills that will stick with me for life.

Gabrielle Hogg, trainee pest technician, Pest Solutions

Meeting a mentor

As well as the Level 2 training and guidance from her colleagues, Gabrielle benefits from the wisdom of BPCA’s Technical Manager, Dee Ward-Thompson, who has been mentoring her.

“I met Gabrielle at the Regional Forum in Scotland last year,” says Dee. “Scotland events are always enjoyable for me, as I get to see some of the technicians that I’ve worked with in the past and, on this occasion, one of them introduced me to Gabrielle.

“Like I was when I first discovered pest control, she was like a kid in a sweet shop; loving the industry and wanting to learn everything that she could.

“I was more than happy to offer her some advice on direction and talk about some of the roles within the industry that she could look at in the future.”

Gabrielle appreciates the guidance, saying: “It’s great to have someone to talk to, to bring any thoughts and ideas to life.

Discussing pest control has allowed me to achieve more success when in the field. Dee supports my career development by challenging me to think about what my next steps are going to be.

Gabrielle Hogg, trainee pest technician, Pest Solutions

“She motivates me to take action when it comes to my personal development and has supported me with my studies towards any pest control exams that I’m working towards.”
Gabrielle continued, “Dee has been great to have as a mentor. I think everyone should try to find a mentor like Dee because it keeps your development in focus, which is so important.”

Dee says that the mentoring initially focused on education and qualifications, and the career paths that would be available to Gabrielle in such a diverse industry.

“There is such a wide range of career opportunities available, from environmental health to entomology,” Dee said.

“We discussed the courses available, trying to find the best fit for Gabrielle, exploring what each course would bring and what this could then open up for her as potential career paths.”

Once Gabrielle had chosen her degree course, the two of them began to focus on getting Gabrielle ready for her RSPH Level 2.

Dee continued, “Like me, Gabrielle wants to get the best marks possible and achieve that highly sought after distinction.

“One of the hurdles when studying pest management is understanding the ‘why’. You can read this kind of material over and over, but discussing it and unpicking it is when we begin to truly understand.”

“So, this is where we are now,” says Dee, “I send Gabrielle questions, she sends me the answers, then we discuss them and get that understanding of why those questions are so important.

I enjoy being Gabrielle’s sounding board; it’s quite simply a joy to be able to share my passion with such a bright young woman in the industry.

Dee-Ward-Thompson, BPCA Technical Manager

Dee added, “Mentoring from a distance due to lockdown has been a challenge, but once we are through these challenging times we’re looking forward to a few meetings over coffee and cake!”

As mentioned, there are many paths to follow when pursuing a career in pest management, so where does Gabrielle see hers heading?

“My short-term goal is to achieve all my relevant pest control qualifications. Long-term, I see myself working closely with birds and falconry.

“I can see a love for birds running in my family and can’t wait to get more involved with bird work.”

Gabrielle continued, “At first I was the only female technician in my company, but it’s great to see that we have already recruited another female graduate technician since I started.

“I’m excited to see this diversity spread through the industry because I feel there are a lot of opportunities for women to do great work in pest control.”

Develop your career

If you’re looking for ways to develop your pest management career, check out our more advanced training courses...
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Source: PPC100