Women Techs Rock: How Kimberly turned her military training into a civilian career as a diesel tech
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Women Techs Rock Highlight
Name: Kimberly Lakner
Employer: Walmart, Shop Service Manager
School: Marine Corps
Who is Kimberly Lakner?
Kimberly is the shop manager at a Florida-based Walmart Distribution Facility. She started at Walmart 27 years ago as a truck fueler and washer then moved into a technician role and eventually into management. She started her career in the Marine Corps where she received her diesel training.
She likes working for Walmart and moved around when the opportunity was made available. She has been in management since 2002. Her role allows her to occasionally go into the shop to wrench, she enjoys doing diagnostics and research on equipment to help solve issues.
She misses wrenching full time because it allowed her to do something of a solo nature in management, she manages the full workload of the shop. When she was in the Marine Corps, she was accepted as a female in the diesel area. Where she was tasked with a job, and she did the job.
When she left the Marine Corps, she immediately felt the difference in that she had to always work harder to prove herself. Once she built a reputation as a technician who did good work,
she then was getting requested by drivers specifically.
In general, Kimberly believes that as a manager it is her job to identify where help is needed and provide the assistance to make the technician’s job easier for them to understand.
Q & A:
Was there an incident that stuck out in your memory that was a turning point for you in your thinking of yourself as a professional tech?
YES! She asked a supervisor for help with an electronic wiring harness problem. He came over to help but ended up taking over. I had to stand up for myself and say, “Hey I don’t want you to do my job, I want you to teach me how to do my job better’. If I hadn’t stood up, I would have become that tech that men would view as “see, women can’t do it”. That supervisor treated me very differently after that encounter. Not only did I gain his respect, but I proved myself and he then trusted me without question going forward. We still stay in touch, and I still remember that interaction as a defining moment.
What mantra do you use when things get challenging? What would you tell your younger you?
Do what you’re passionate about and don’t let anyone stop you.
Is the stigma of a women technician going away?
No but it is changing. As things evolve to EV and Hybrid it becomes less and less about the grease monkey stigma and more and more about computers and electronics. That changes the stigma. Moving from grease monkey into true technician and maybe into engineer.
What should be done to get more women into the profession?
Start them young and teach women to raise one another up. Women must change from within and share ownership and pride with other women. Start in schools on teaching acceptance and understanding what that really means. It’s ok to partner with others to help you as long as women are standing up for themselves.
What is your dream form of transportation?
Her fun toy is a motorcycle. Kimberly won’t wrench on any of her own vehicles.