Photographer and crane operator

Sometimes as a crane operator, other times as a photographer. We found out about the young Canadian through her blog in which she makes no secret of her love of the machines, her passion for the cranes of the future and all her power and conviction. Fortunately, we found her and invited her for a chat.

What we did not know at the time was that her favourite job ever was to photograph the launch of the new LTM 1250- 5.1 for Liebherr Canada. But of course we were delighted when we found out. And it is really impressive to see that Ashleigh Kaliszuk’s expertise and enthusiasm as a crane operator are combined with her determination to help forge the crane world of tomorrow – in a truly positive manner. “Our industry has such a strong work ethos. Long days, extreme weather conditions and challenging teams demand that we demonstrate stamina combined with obvious management strength. At the same time, we are unfortunately still miles away from diversity and inclusion”, says Kaliszuk.

I never really accepted the ideology that I can't work in male-dominated industries because of my sex.

Ashleigh Kaliszuk

Ashleigh Kaliszuk, who grew up in British Columbia and now lives back in Vancouver after years in Alberta, has had this experience herself during her professional career. Not only in the male-dominated construction industry, but also when she transported millions of dollars across the country as a security guard. "But I never really accepted the ideology that I can´t work in male-dominated industries because of my sex," she clarifies.

”Ashleigh became a crane operator twelve years ago when she was working as a scaffolder in Alberta. “After I'd been there a year I started to operate the equipment myself and started training on a mobile crane.” Today she operates a whole host of models, including rough terrain and all terrain hydraulic cranes. “The biggest crane I've ever operated was the Liebherr LR 1200 crawler crane. I installed a pumping plant for a tank farm with it.”

And when Ashleigh Kaliszuk is not behind the controls of a crane, you can generally find her behind a lens. She taught herself the techniques for this “by reading photography books whilst I waited in the crane for the next job.” Like everything in her life, she regards photography as an ongoing process in which she continues to hone her skills. “I now create wildly diverse content, I also write articles, prepare seminars and campaign for women’s rights.”

Her great, honest and natural pride in her job in the crane is closely related to this sense of commitment. “I was really inspired when I joined the Alberta Division of the ‘International Union of Operating Engineers’ six years ago. The recently formed women’s committee, which I am a member of, is an excellent opportunity to drive forward the objectives of our female members.” Ashleigh’s main concerns for all female crane operators are quite simply having reasonable working conditions – from having a voice and career opportunities to functional clothing and an end to all discrimination.

“I could talk forever about this which is why I blog so much”, she laughs and puts forward her very own personal mission: “I want my message to reach the masses. I want to challenge anybody who refuses to accept change. I want to inspire women, not just to persevere as a crane operator, but to be passionate about the job. I'm incredibly passionate about helping my colleagues. And it would be negligent not to be a catalyst for positive change. Do you know what? If that means telling everybody about my good and bad experiences, then I can definitely say: Bring it on!”

This article was published in the UpLoad magazine 01 | 2021.

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