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Career Profile

Julie Thrasher

Shift Manager (Nuclear Power)
Ontario Power Generation
Julie Thrasher au travail dans la salle de commande
Julie Thrasher au travail dans la salle de commande
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway

I’m responsible for the safe and effective operation of a four unit nuclear power plant.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Belleville, ON

I now live in:  Courtice, ON

I completed my training/education at: I attended the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering

What I do at work

I like that my job at OPG Pickering gives me new challenges every day! I get to make critical decisions using my technical background and the procedural knowledge that have received from in-house training at OPG. I enjoy that my job includes both technical aspects and management duties. I make sure the team is performing to its best ability. I also provide leadership and mentoring to help them grow and ensure their success.

I work as part of a team and with many different workgroups. I work with other operators and people in the engineering, maintenance, and chemistry departments to name a few. Everyone is smart, skilled, and dedicated to what they do and what the company stands for. It is very rewarding work!

My career path is

By being curious! I don’t like being bored. In high school I took courses in welding and woodworking. I loved hands on learning as it kept me busy. I was also a bit of a nerd in that I paid my younger sister so I could do her homework. I was always curious about how things worked or didn’t. Even before high school I would take apart of a lot of things in our house. For example, our VCR didn’t work so I took it apart and fixed it.

When I was in high school I had no idea what nuclear energy was. It wasn’t until I was in university that I became aware of it. Growing up it was all about tinkering and household projects. I might have ended up in the skilled trades but I didn’t have much information about it.

I did well academically so I was encouraged to try university. I was not prepared for the difference between high school and university, and I failed my first year. It took a while to figure out how university worked and what I needed to do to succeed. I got interested in engineering and decided to give that a try. Then things clicked for me and I ended up graduating with honours. It wasn’t until about half way through university that I learned about nuclear energy and never looked back.

When I was in school (both high school and university), I worked at many hands-on, technical jobs to earn some extra money. I worked with one company that repaired small appliances and tools. This gave me a lot of practical experience and was why I decided to study mechanical engineering.

After I graduated, OPG hired me as a Design Engineer. This job involved planning and designing piping, pumps and motors for many different systems. I took advantage of in-house training programs. This gave me qualifications and skills to take on new jobs and more responsibility. Today, I’m responsible for one of the teams that operates our nuclear power plant. You never know where your interests will take you!

I am motivated by

First and foremost, it is the people I work with. I get to work with such a diverse workforce. I also like that a lot of new issues are brought to me so I’m never bored. I get up in the morning and look forward to going to work. I also enjoy that in this job you are never done learning. There is something new every day and there is constant growth in the company.

How I affect peoples’ lives

OPG provides ON with huge amount of electricity; over a third of electrical generation is from OPG nuclear plants in the province. One of the things I like about OPG is how dedicated everyone is to protecting the environment. Nuclear is a very low carbon energy source. OPG is planning to be a net zero carbon company in a couple of decades. By producing low carbon energy, we are helping address issues related to climate change.

Outside of work I

I enjoy camping, fishing, and hiking. Baseball was also a big part of growing up and being part of work teams. Since becoming a mom I have spent a lot of time still enjoying the outdoors, and crafts and swimming with the little one.

My advice to others

Do what you love! Even if your current job is not what you love; keep pursuing it. Keep the bar high and keep looking for the job or position you feel is right for you. Have a goal and keep going until you get there. It may not happen right away and there will be many challenges and failures along the way but let that make you stronger. Pursue challenges with passion and drive. Remember, no job is too small or unimportant as all this gives you skills and experience.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Industrial Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Was motivated by success
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Played video games
  • Was really creative
  • Wasn't sure what I wanted to do
  • Learned best “by doing”
  • Liked to take things apart to see how they worked
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing and berry picking

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