Growing up in Tasman Bay with a love of fishing and the outdoors, it seems fitting that Sarah Bradley was this year appointed manager of Talley’s fish factory in Motueka.
However, like many teenagers, Sarah had been unsure what she wanted to do when she left Motueka High School.
“My favourite subjects included Outdoor Education, Art, Home Economics, Graphics and Design.”
She found work in a café, then a restaurant hotel, and studied hospitality before returning to Motueka and finding seasonal work at Talley’s through a WINZ jobseeker programme.
Over a span of nine years, the 29-year-old has worked her way up from a temporary job shelling green-lipped mussels, to her current role overseeing 116 day-shift and 95 night-shift staff.
On the logistics side of things, Sarah keeps in touch with the boats and truck drivers to ensure the factory has enough fish to keep production lines operating and product moving through.
The list of qualifications Sarah has gained while working ranges from first aid and seafood processing through to effective communication and health and safety management.
After a few years on the factory floor, where she learnt to pack, trim and process fish, Sarah
transferred to an administration role, working as personal assistant to the factory manager.
From there, she applied for a job as line supervisor, enjoying the challenge that came with overseeing up to 30 staff and learning to manage a factory processing line.
This role sparked an interest in machines that saw Sarah leave the company to work at a local engineering workshop.
“Six months later, I was asked by Talley’s to join a management cadet position, learning the
intricate and in-depth business qualities required to be a factory manager,” she says. “This completed my ambition that began with my admin role years prior.”
To those unsure what career path to follow, Sarah’s advice is to try out different industries and jobs to discover what you want to do.
“Set realistic goals, engage in any training offered and remember that respect is earned through hard work and a great attitude.”
From beauty therapy to truck driving -there aren’t many people who have followed the same career path as Toni Tawhara.
Toni found her way into a beauty therapy course after leaving Motueka High School with NCEA Level 1 and for a number of years worked part-time in a salon and in an administration role at a service station.
Coming to the realisation that beauty therapy and office work were not for her, and knowing she liked driving, Toni focused on getting her Class 2 truck licence. Three years on, you’ll find her behind the wheel of a Scania B Train driving for Talley’s in Nelson.
Based in Motueka, the 26-year-old carts seafood and vegetables six days a week, mainly around the top of the South Island.
“I love driving and seeing New Zealand,” she says. “I love the variety and the people at Talley’s, they really look after me.”
Even though there are more women on the road than there used to be (eight per cent of drivers are female), Toni admits she was worried others in the industry might not take a young woman seriously. “But people were super kind, they went out of their way to help,” she says.
Toni was determined to succeed and went “above and beyond” to be good at her job. Her efforts have clearly paid off – last year, she was runner-up in the Road Transport Forum’s EROAD Young Driver of the Year.
For those interested in a career driving trucks, Toni’s advice is “go for it”.
“It’s a skill you’ll have for life and a good way to earn money.” (In three years, she has saved enough to buy her own home.)
In the future, Toni says she would like to try something else (maybe go to university), but for now she’s happy on the road. “I love driving trucks.”