While most drivers may be comfortable behind the wheel of a Toyota Prius, Chevy Equinox or Ford F-150, Bertha “Birdie” Coronado is at ease when it comes to handling the bigger, heavier stuff. It’s the cranes, skid loaders, digger and stringing machines, backhoes, EZ-haulers and pole setters that get this all-equipment operator’s adrenaline pumping.
Today, we spotlight Birdie as we continue commemorating Women’s History Month and recognizing some of the more than 700 women at CPS Energy, each of whom has an important role in delivering reliable power to our customers.
Here are highlights of our recent interview with Birdie, as we caught up with her at the Southwest Service District in Southwest San Antonio, where she’s stationed.
CPS Energy: How did you become interested in a career at CPS Energy?
Birdie: My husband, Pascual, encouraged me to work for a company with excellent benefits and insurance. CPS Energy was the perfect fit!
CPS Energy: What are some of your duties as an all-equipment operator?
Birdie: Whenever a car hits a utility pole causing outages, I operate a crane to hold the top piece of the new pole until it’s set. I also use a crane to hang regulators that weigh nearly 2 tons. I dig holes, set poles and backfill around them. I operate various stringing machines for replacing or installing overhead wires. I’ve also trained colleagues to help them get their commercial driver’s license.
CPS Energy: What types of physical or emotional challenges have you faced in your career?
Birdie: My first day at CPS Energy, I couldn’t even lift a jackhammer! A month later, I could pick it up along with two sets of hoses and carry them a block away to the job site. It hasn’t been easy – working in downpours, blistering summers, freezing winters and responding to accident sites where a vehicle collided with a utility pole. Early in my career, I was also told working in the field wasn’t a woman’s job, that women should stay home to raise families.
CPS Energy: How have you found your career rewarding?
Birdie: The greatest feeling is when the customer comes out and thanks you for getting their lights back on. I’ve seen tears of joy streaming down their faces. Overall, I’m a better person and I have proven to myself, my coworkers, my family and my bosses that “I CAN DO IT!”
CPS Energy: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Birdie: Being the first tenured female in the line department and being the first female construction worker to go on hurricane relief (in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey). I’ve broken barriers in our company and industry.
Thank you, Birdie, for the work you do for our Company, customers and community!