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Making a difference every day

At the Transport Agency we create transport solutions for a thriving New Zealand. Here, you can meet some of our people who are passionate about making that happen.

Rebecca

Rebecca
Geospatial Manager |  Planning & Investment

‘You can teach skills, but you can't teach attitude.’

Rebecca graduated from university as a geologist and began her career in the mines in Western Australia. She returned to New Zealand after travelling and ended up working at NZ Petroleum and Minerals, where she became aware of how much easier it was to make decisions and communicate using a geospatial perspective.

 ‘I did a postgrad diploma in Geographic Information Systems and started implementing it in my work. Geographic Information Systems quickly became a base for every project my team and I did.

‘When it came time for me to look for a  new challenge there were only two government organisations going somewhere with Geographic Information Systems – and one of them was the Transport Agency. The organisation really interested me because they were focused on the outcomes, not the information systems themselves.’

Rebecca took on the role of growing our geospatial team in 2013. She believes one of the most important things she does for her team is to make sure they’re clear about what they’re doing and how it connects to the overall strategy, and have the tools and support they need to succeed.

‘We’ve got a great group of people and we have a great culture, and that doesn’t happen by accident. We’ve invested a lot. It’s gratifying to see how the culture has become self-perpetuating.

‘It’s so nice to hear someone say they had a vague idea work could be enjoyable and satisfying, but it wasn’t until they came here that they understood what people meant.’

The team sits within the Transport Agency’s Planning & Investment group but works across the entire agency.

‘We meet lots of people and “connect lots of dots” that others don’t always have the opportunity to do. But it does mean we’re often in great demand, so we have to make some hard calls about what we get involved with.

‘It’s not a formal thing – we just ask lots of questions. Quite often, what they ask for isn’t what they actually need. Sometimes the way we help is connecting people up with someone else.

‘The technology is just a tool for us. It’s all about relationships and understanding and decision making. Our team has to take a really strategic approach. There’s some people that wouldn’t be happy with that.

‘It’s attitude that I look for. You can teach technical skills but you can’t teach attitude.’

Tam

Tam
Senior Business Analyst | Organisational Support

‘I like what the Transport Agency does. The environment’s pretty cool.’

Tam is a Senior Business Analyst who has been with the Transport Agency for four years. He’s based in Wellington and is currently seconded to the InfoHub project (the Transport Agency’s document management system) as a trainer.

Tam came to New Zealand at the age of 10, and is fluent in Vietnamese and English. He got a commerce degree in Valuations and Property Management (BCom–VPM) at Lincoln University in 1996, then had a career change studying at Massey Wellington for a Diploma in Business Computing (2001). Tam once said he’d never live in Wellington.  ‘It’s hilly, windy, rainy and you have to pay to park in front of your house.’ He finally made the move in 1998 and has been here ever since. Tam has now completed over 60 mountain bike rides – so the hills are obviously working their charms!

After graduating, Tam worked for the Housing New Zealand Corporation before he was headhunted to join Unisys. ‘I was a software tester at Unisys (for the LTNZ account). I saw it as really good training. I wanted to become a really good business analyst and it was good training – it got me here.’

‘I like what the Transport Agency does. The environment’s pretty cool. I have a great team and good leaders who give you a level of trust and autonomy. I like the semi-flexible hours. I go riding at lunchtime, get home early and do more work at home. That’s become more important because I have two young children now so work life balance is a big deal for me. The Transport Agency has that understanding.’

Jon

Jon
Zero Harm Advisor | People and Capability

There’s no such thing as an average week here

‘I started as an explosives engineer in the military. During this time, I supported the police in bomb disposal, and I also had tours of Northern Ireland, the Balkans and the Middle East. Then I retrained as a pavement engineer.’

Jon was originally from the UK, where he was working for the Transport Research Laboratory – an international research organisation – as Global Head of Safety, Health and Environment. A chartered member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Jon is one of 18 certified members of the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management (NZISM).

When he started to look at moving to New Zealand in 2014, there were only seven certified NZISM members – now there are 18. This demonstrates how rapidly the safety industry is growing in New Zealand. ‘We need to set the bar higher in New Zealand and there are real benefits associated with professional accreditation. It means that those who engage with us as safety professionals can trust that we know what we’re doing, and we’re personally committed to being the best at what we do.

‘I’m a relatively new Kiwi, and new to the Transport Agency too. I started my current role last February, working with the Zero Harm team. Together we’re working towards improving our health and safety performance as an organisation and industry so that all our people go home safe from work every day – no exceptions. We’re really passionate about creating a Zero Harm culture – a systemic risk-based (or “real world”) approach to health and safety.

‘We’re always looking for smart ways to make safety easy. Working with key industry partners, we recently developed the Zero Harm Reporting App that makes it easy for people to tell us about health and safety incidents in real time. It’s not just for our own people, but we’ve made it free for our wider industry too. That’s pretty cool. The reporting app won best significant health and safety initiative by a large organisation at the New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards 2015, which is something that I’m really proud of.

‘The Transport Agency is a really forward thinking organisation – you’re enabled and encouraged to be creative and innovative. We’re also big fans of collaborating with our industry partners, which is really important in the world of health and safety.

‘We’re big on responsibility and accountability. You are allowed to fail because that’s how you learn, but you can’t be reckless. You use your professional judgement and you take ownership of your decisions. You’d never get told to go away and mind your own business. That wouldn’t work for me – I poke my nose in everywhere.’

Janeane walking beside Tauranga Harbour

Janeane
Organisation Improvement Manager | Planning & Investment

Putting customers at the heart of our planning and investment.

Janeane leads and manages transformation projects. ‘My job is helping make transport successful through a customer and community lens. People always have opinions about transport – my job is to listen, understand and listen some more.’

She has a Diploma in Project Management and has a degree in languages and film & television.  She believes her current role ‘strategic planning for change’ is a learned skill and there is nothing like first-hand experience.

’I enjoy being face-to-face with customers and stakeholders, working in their place, understanding their needs. I’m Tauranga based so my patch is the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, but I also get the opportunity to connect with colleagues, customers and partners in the upper and central North Island. How we implement on the ground here can be really different to Auckland or Invercargill. So, yeah, even though I work regionally I think New Zealand a lot.’

Janeane likes the way the Transport Agency is putting customers at the heart of the conversation. ‘It’s important to be able to tell a really clear story about benefits. We’re moving away from funding an output to investing in outcomes. Our investment decisions are based on the journeys that customers take and the best interests of communities. The things we’re dealing with are not just a bridge or a passing lane. It’s a different conversation now.

‘We start by asking things like – how can we help small businesses get their goods to port quicker? How do we ensure that a customer can rely on their travel time? How do we get more kids to school safely? We are open, upfront and collaborative – we share a lot of information. We can now say things like, ‘this year we’re saving these people 23 minutes on average on this journey’, or ‘we’re predicting five less injuries on this stretch of road. It’s measurable and quantifiable and meaningful to customers and communities. I’m proud of the way our language is changing and our view is widening – and the opportunities I get to be a part of.’

Ben

Ben
Manager Evidence, Insight and Geospatial | Planning and Investment

We owe it to New Zealanders to make the best out of transport

Ben regards his role in the Transport Agency as a simple but valuable one.

‘I’m here to make it as easy as possible for people in our organisation to get their work done, so we can make the biggest possible difference to New Zealand.’

Ben has a degree in Geography and Economics with a Masters in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Leicester, and was brought in four years ago to coordinate the wealth of information that guides the Transport Agency.

‘I immediately found this place is full of really smart, experienced people. There’s never a dull moment and we enjoy some robust mental sparring.’

He leads a team that provides Transport Agency people with the hard evidence needed to meet the continually growing needs of our transport networks and keep both the process and the solutions as simple as possible. As a people leader, Ben makes sure that simplicity begins in his own team.

‘It’s all about getting rid of unnecessary complexity and joining together different things we might be doing. Seeing the big picture in a wall of noise and actually showing people there’s a better way, and encouraging them along.

‘It’s great to work here because transport is so complex. It’s one of those things that you can never solve so there’s almost a limitless range of interesting and complex work to get involved in, and try and help with.

‘It really matters to make travel easier for people – from how they get to work, to how they get their kids to school, to how we get the things we buy to our homes.

‘We owe it to New Zealanders to make the best out of transport…because it’s really important to the lives of everybody.’

Jenny

Jenny
Principal Regional Advisor | Southern Region

We’re ramping up safety for visiting drivers

Jenny is the Principal Regional Advisor for the Southern Region which covers all of the South Island (except Nelson, Blenheim and Marlborough). Armed with a law degree and a BA Honours in History from Otago, she started in a policy position at the Ministry of Transport.  She has also worked at Parliament for former Transport Ministers Mark Gosche and Paul Swain.  She then moved to Christchurch when her first child was 18 months old to be closer to wider family – ‘it was good to get back to the mainland’.

Jenny’s house is in a damaged area of the city, but was fixed relatively quickly.

‘Obviously the rebuild challenges Christchurch residents every day. A lot of people moved North and South post-earthquake – but we decided to stay put. There’s a lot going on in Christchurch.

Jenny is part of a core team of four who work with many external partners including local government, the NZ Police, the AA and industry associations across the tourism, rental vehicle and freight sectors. The job involves quite a bit of travel to Wellington, Dunedin, the West Coast and Queenstown.

In her role she is the Project Manager for the Transport Agency’s Visiting Drivers Project.  This project aims to improve the safety of international and domestic visitors travelling in Otago, Southland and the West Coast.  It’s an exciting project that is delivering tangible new safety measures such as laying centre line rumble strips between Haast and Hokitika, and painting white ‘tourist arrows’ on the left-hand side of the road to remind drivers where they should be driving.

Jenny is also involved in developing the Draft South Island Freight Plan which spans all the Transport Agency’s business groups, KiwiRail and other freight companies.

‘We’re forecasting a lot more freight will be moving across the South Island. Demand for goods is up and increased productivity is expected especially in Canterbury. More land is being irrigated for dairy farms and further afield, a lot of trees are due for harvest.

‘In developing the draft plan we came up with an agreed and shared action plan that includes focusing on land use around ports, supporting a new supply of drivers coming through the industry and a number of roading network improvements to assist the movement of freight.

‘Right from the beginning I felt supported in my role here and people were welcoming and forthcoming. I very much enjoy the role. It has flexibility and a wide range of work. I have the ability to analyse data, critique and communicate my ideas, in written and verbal ways and I get to work with a wide range of people. I’m not constrained.’

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