Emma Giaever, 27, suffered from burnout and thought she would never be able to work in her chosen profession again. But then she found a job at ÅF. Now she’s stronger than ever.
Emma Giaever has worked as a fire protection engineer since 2011, with a CV featuring everything from industry and private housing to shopping centres, schools and care homes. At ÅF in Trollhättan she is often in charge of assignments, with all the managerial and supervisory responsibilities that entails.
Whilst still at school she had a work placement with the fire and rescue service and took a liking to the profession.
“I’ve always been technically inclined and like working with numbers, so I knew I wanted to be an engineer of some sort. The fire protection engineering course at Luleå University appealed to me because it had a specific focus, and also salary levels were good and the skills were in demand.”
After she qualified, Emma got a job with a small company. The work was enjoyable but her workload was considerable. In May 2015, she went off sick suffering from exhaustion. After a while she tried to return to her job, but circumstances had not changed. She had another breakdown and ended up handing in her notice. At one point, she even wondered if she might have to leave her profession. But then she remembered a fellow student who was working at ÅF. Emma got in touch, explained the situation, and started working at ÅF part-time (25%) in March 2016.
“I was able to have a settling-in period and then increase my workload at a suitable pace. To start with, I worked mainly as a mentor to a newly-qualified colleague, but since last summer I’ve been working full-time. Things have progressed quite quickly when you think how bad things were only a year ago!”
Why do you think things have worked so well?
“The care shown at ÅF, and the fact that I was listened to. It was OK for me not to be super-productive to start with. When I started to feel stronger, my workload increased at a rate that suited me. I have always had a strong work ethic and plenty of drive, but that also means you have to be careful not to overwork. My section manager is sensitive to my situation and supports me when he can see that I’m reaching my limits.”
What does the team mean to you?
“They mean so much. We support one another and help each other out on projects. When you work in a large organisation there’s usually someone else available to share the load. As a consultant, it’s easy to take on too much, so you have to make sure you work at the right level and look after yourself.”
Do you feel this is something you’re encouraged to do at ÅF?
“Definitely. For example, we recently brought in a policy in our section which says that when you’re training, on holiday or on sick leave, you cannot work or check your phone. I think that’s a good thing.”
Emma has become stronger in more ways than one – she now spends her spare time in the gym, training and powerlifting.
“It’s great fun, and I’m noticing that it gives me more energy at every level. My aim is to be as strong as possible and I’m soon going to start powerlifting competitively!”