Going to the Port of Tauranga is always a treat – not just because their offices look up at the mighty Mauao, but because it’s a business full of interesting people doing incredible things for the growth and development of our region.
Recently, our Business Women’s Network took a behind the scenes look at women in the maritime sector. Our Events & Sponsorship Manager Anne Pankhurst recaps.
Given the size and scale of Port of Tauranga, it always feels unassuming as you enter at the Salisbury Street entrance, but as soon as you get into its depths, you see its vastness unfold.
Our event began with an overview of the Port from two of its senior executives, Corporate Services Manager Mel Dyer and Communications Manager Rochelle Lockley, and some of those facts are outstanding.
At the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, we are often asked how important the Port is to the region. Listening to the overview, you understand instantly.
The Port is the biggest in New Zealand, both import and export by tonnage. It has the capability to take the huge ships – one of the few in Australasia that can. It has also diversified its risk and now has ports from Timaru to the far North (including an inland port), all doing and having different roles to play, and all of which are connected by rail and road.
For such a big business, the Port of Tauranga has a relatively small staff, and we were lucky enough to hear from three of their female staff. Mel was quick to point out that while female employees are still low in number, they are high in value – at present, 33% of their female staff are in board or senior roles, with an expectation of getting this up to 40%.
Our first speaker was Anna Willoughby, one of the pilot launch masters. She takes the pilot out in all kinds of weather and conditions to the incoming boats, so they can help bring them into the harbor. Anna had a fascinating journey to this point in her career (and one that we will follow up on). But just one of them was running one of the salvage boats during the Rena crisis.
Fenna Beets came next – she is one of a team of two who are responsible for environmental outcomes from the Port.
A highly scientific role and one that Fenna is well qualified for having (she obtained her degree here in Tauranga), one of her pet projects is stormwater and the run off to the sea.
Then, finally, we heard from Ricki Ross, who also had a fascinating journey to her present role. She is responsible for all manner of logistics on the Port with a staff that can fluctuate from 60 to 80 at any given moment. Her career started at Fullers and, as she would say, “On the hospo side”.
Three very different women, with three very interesting jobs. Thanks to everyone who attended and to the Port for hosting our Behind the Scenes. It’s always a pleasure to get a look ‘behind the curtain’ to unpick the inner workings of a local business.
Business Behind the Scenes is an event series hosted by the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce networking group Business Women’s Network (BWN). Find out more about the group here and sign up for future events.