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Coleridge provides the Ultimate Work/Life Balance

My background was in banking, a local authority, the hospitality industry and High Country farming. Then everything changed...

In 1995 I was employed by P&O Crothalls to clean Coleridge Power Station, which was then owned by the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand. In time, I began to assist with generating unit maintenance and general administration on a part-time basis. Shortly after TrustPower purchased Coleridge Power Station, I was approached to train as an operator and take on full-time employment. With some trepidation (due to a well-developed fear of electricity), I agreed to the challenge and in May 1999 embarked upon this interesting career path. Not quite what I’d planned in my school-days! In 2005 I was appointed Production Co-ordinator for the Canterbury Region, which comprises three stations: Coleridge, Highbank and Montalto. There are seven generating units and seven staff, including myself.  

Hydro-generation stations tend to be in remote, scenic areas and therefore offer a lifestyle unavailable in many careers. I don’t think a week would go by when I don’t see a tourist taking a photograph while I’m driving to or from work. They pay to get here, while I’m paid to be here! Stations are staffed by people with ‘country’ values. Due to a low staff turn-over, we get to know one another rather well. The Canterbury Team is what makes my job so enjoyable. They’re dedicated to their work, talented, and more than a little quirky – which is great! We’re part of the local tight-knit community, so it is important to us that TrustPower is held in high regard.  

A few years ago, my husband gave up his salaried job to concentrate on his horse-trekking and breeding business. Its success relies upon the rugged beauty of this area. People love coming here to experience a type of riding becoming inaccessible to much of the population. Our horses are brought up on steep, rough country. They become used to walking through rivers and swamps, over fallen trees and learn to look after themselves. Horses bred in flat paddocks have to be taught these things. I get the fun of helping to train the youngsters, which is what I particularly enjoy.  

I appreciate that TrustPower has taken a chance on me. I like that TrustPower values the individual, encourages their strengths, and gives the opportunity for personal development. TrustPower has sponsored me to the Berwick Outdoor Experience and included me in its Leadership Programme. I have also been lucky enough to attend the HydroPower Technology Course. The value gained from these courses is ongoing and used on a daily basis.  

I know a little about a lot of things now! For example, in a typical week I might have: taken a closer look at eels (thankfully not in the flesh!) as part of my involvement with a trust; checked out New Zealand Standards for cranes/ladders/safety harnesses; studied Environment Canterbury rules on offal pits; attended a fault call-out while on-call; studied the Electricity Regulations; and arranged contractors for a major station outage. All quite apart from the normal running of the region which requires planning meetings with staff, routine reporting, machine maintenance, invoice approval, outage planning, arranging training, compliance monitoring for resource consents, health and safety and buildings, civil surveillance, contractor supervision and all the while fielding general enquiries from TrustPower and the public. Sometimes it all gets a little scary, but it’s never boring. When the going gets tough, I am fully supported by my manager, who is always available for advice. Thankfully, he also has a sense of humour.  

Production Co-ordinators have a forum once a year. Due to the geographical spread of our regions, this is our only opportunity to all get together and discuss pertinent issues. I note that, while our title is the same, we each do different tasks within our respective regions and we each have very different personalities and operating styles. Yet we have all found our place within TrustPower.