Women Of Automation Part 5: Rebecca Hardwick
By Anna Robb
Rebecca, what is your location, job title and job responsibilities day to day?
I am the Automation Show Lead for The House of Dancing Water, which is at The City of Dreams resort in Macau. Macau? Where’s that? In short, it’s a 1-hour ferry ride from Hong Kong.
As the show lead, I am responsible for supervising the show crew and participating in daily activities, which includes, operating for artist training, rehearsals and shows. The show team is responsible for the operation, inspection and repair of the automation systems during shows and we conduct inspections on all automation equipment above and below the water when the maintenance crew are on their days off. I work alongside my head of department to run training for the show and maintenance teams. I’m one of the points of contact for most programming requests and facilitate any modification to the show that may be required. As a lead, I deal with show crew scheduling, automation show reports and upkeep of work orders in our maintenance database.
How did you get into the field of automation? What were the steps that lead you into this area?
Well, I fell into automation when the lighting work dried up at the venue I was working at back in 2007. The automation department was looking for someone to operate for a short time and I was put forward as a candidate. Automation was something that interested me, so I said yes when they offered me a position. I was a total rookie and I was trained from the ground up. Having a background in lighting and an overall training in technical theatre helped but it was very much like starting from the beginning again. I had trained in technical theatre with the intention of going into the field of lighting and this was a bit of a change of route. It all worked out though, because here I am, working on one of the largest shows in the world, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What is the best part of your job? What is the worst?
This may sound a little weird, but when something breaks and needs fixing during a show. It may feel like the worst moment of your life when you are in the heat of the moment and the pressure is on to fix things but there is so much satisfaction in resolving the issue and being able to continue the show to the end with all equipment in use. There you go, best and worst in one fell swoop.
What skills do you need to have to be part of the automation world?
Ooh, I’d say to be calm and patient, for sure, and to have a high concentration span, especially if you’re an operator. To be fast thinking is certainly a valuable asset in the automation world, whether you be troubleshooting, operating or involved in the creation of a show. Other essential skills are the ability to be methodical and have a systematic approach to your work.
Name a person who inspires you and tell us why.
One person who has inspired me recently is my good friend Maja. She is not the first person I have known to publish a book; however, she is the most recent. She makes up stories to tell her nephews and nieces and has turned them into a children’s book. Currently published in Slovenian and soon to be published in English. To take her stories and share them with more than just her family, I think, is something amazing. She has inspired me to say more and write more. I have begun to collect words and stories. I am reminded that my job and career are only a small part of me, I love my work but I need to exist outside of the bubble that can so easily envelop a person working in the entertainment industry.