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Giving a New Meaning to a Life-Long Career

January 10, 2024

Giving a New Meaning to a Life-Long Career

By Kelly Zajicek, Operations Manager, ACRT

My life has been intertwined with this industry since the womb. My mother worked at a Texas investor-owned utility for 41 years. It’s nostalgic to think about the organization that supported my mother when she welcomed me and my twin brother into the world. In some ways, it makes up my earliest memories. Now, as an industry veteran, I enjoy the “full-circle” moments, like recalling visiting the transmission offices and “war room” as a teenager.

My mother started out as a junior accountant and was in a financial support role when she retired. She ended up in a support role because she had been there for so long that she knew a whole lot of information and how things were done. It’s important that you hold onto those people and not always look for the newest and greatest thing. As you get long in the tooth at a company, there will be flashy new people who come in, but you can’t forget about the people who helped get the company to the point where it is today.

As a kid, I didn’t go to school for vegetation management. I went to the University of Texas at Arlington and graduated with a business degree.

Over time, my brother-in-law kept planting seeds and encouraging me to apply at the company he worked for — ACRT.  For nearly a year and a half, he was like, “Kelly, you have to come work here. It’s awesome.” But I was happy at my current job working as a warehouse manager for an LED and fiberoptic company in Dallas. After a couple of years, he asked me again and I agreed to apply.

I started out on the ground level as a notifier and after realizing I’d be working alongside the same Texas IOU that afforded us a good lifestyle growing up, my mother beamed with excitement.

Who knew that you could get paid to knock on people’s doors and talk to them about utility lines and tree trimming? I had no idea that was even a paying job. In college, I just figured that I would get with a good company, start at the bottom, work my way up, and hopefully succeed.

At that point, the decision to make a career change felt easy and reassuring. Over the years, I’ve worked on different projects and developed relationships with folks whom I’ve been proud to introduce myself as Pam Zajicek’s son. Though we never had the opportunity to work alongside each other, we communicated with many of the same individuals – especially when operating in storm mode.

I didn’t realize that by going to school for a business degree, I’d end up where I am today – being a contractor for the company that my mother retired from. It’s very cool.

While others may not have a connection to this industry from birth, you become family once you join. This industry is special in many ways and one I hope to retire from after many years – just like my mother.

This article was originally published in the 2024 January/February UAA Newsline.

ACRT Staff

ACRT is the largest independent utility consulting company in the U.S. and empowers utilities to proactively manage vegetation across their entire rights-of-way. We consistently stay on top of and share relevant industry content with our employees and customers around the country.