Come behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Today we profile Chantelle Taylor, Communications Advice Manager, Wellington.
Some things I do in my job include… From 2 September I’ll be leading a team of talented Communications Advisors around the country, providing specialist support to help managers and staff communicate effectively about DOC’s work. Our team’s focus is on protecting and building DOC’s reputation, so we maintain the support that’s needed to continue to do the great work DOC people do. That includes ensuring we communicate effectively with New Zealanders, with the news media, with our key stakeholders and with staff. It means telling lots of great stories, as well as helping teams plan and manage communications around sensitive decisions and issues.
This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… making sure New Zealanders know about the great stuff we’re doing, understand why it’s so important, and trust DOC to do a good job. Basically it’s about growing/maintaining support for DOC and the work we do, so you can all get on with achieving our vision. We also have an important role to play in helping engage New Zealanders in conservation, and we help ensure staff understand our strategy and vision.
The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is… putting on a pair of gumboots and DOC-green polar fleece and heading out with the Murihiku team to ‘rescue’ a baby fur seal from a woman’s garden. I was in town running a workshop and the team jumped on the chance for me to see them in action. The wee seal had made his/her way up a river, through a park, across a couple of streets and into the camellia bushes. It was great to have the chance to get out with our rangers to see what the ‘real work’ is all about.
The best bit about my job is… The people I work with. I’m inspired every day by the people across DOC and the work they do. I’m also lucky to be surrounded by hugely talented, hard working, creative and fun people in the Communications Unit—you are awesome!
The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is… It was actually former DOC ranger Nicola Toki, who writes the ‘In Our Nature’ blog on Stuff, that inspired me to come and work for DOC. She spoke at a public relations (PR) conference I attended a few years back and I was struck by her passion for conservation, and the potential to really make a difference for our environment by getting the conservation message out more widely. She’s continuing to do a great job speaking up for conservation in a way that people connect with.
On a personal note…
Most people don’t know that I… volunteered at Wellington Zoo for two and a half years when I first moved to Wellington. I swept chimpanzee poo, painted fences, built penguin nest boxes and papier mache’d enrichment toys with the best of them. One of the coolest things I did there was help out with measuring the Grand and Otago skinks in their breeding programme. Beautiful squirmy little creatures.
My stomping ground is… The mean streets of Wellington’s Mt Victoria, and the mountain biking trails of Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park.
My greatest sporting moment was when… I crossed the finish line at Grape Ride in April (101 km cycle race in Blenheim). Next stop: Taupo Cycle Challenge. Yikes, not sure what I’m thinking….
If I could be any New Zealand native species I’d be… a tui. While I love getting out in wild places (particularly on my mountain bike!) I’m definitely most comfortable in the city. It’s wonderful seeing so many tui around Wellington. They are pretty quirky birds and great urban ambassadors for our native wildlife.
Before working at DOC I… worked in the tourism sector, at Tourism New Zealand and then at the sector’s industry training organisation (ATTTO). I was fortunate to be involved in some pretty amazing stuff during my time at Tourism New Zealand—everything from a giant inflatable rugby ball to a visit from a bunch of Top Models and a Bachelor. One of the highlights though was writing the award entry that won New Zealand the overall prize at the international Virgin Responsible Tourism Awards – amazing PR around the enormous value to New Zealand of integrating environmental management into business. Before that I worked in a bunch of marketing communications roles in financial services in Auckland and London.
Deep and meaningful…
My favourite quote is… “The best routes are the ones you haven’t ridden. You could pedal the same loops year after year. Many people do, literally or figuratively. But to grow, you need new rides. Risks. Turn down lanes you’ve long seen but never travelled. Get lost once or twice, then double back to where you started and try again. Live like this and you come to see unknown territory not as threatening, but as intriguing.” ~ Mark Remy, Bicycling Magazine 9/01.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… from a friend very recently. There are no crystal balls in life. Don’t even try to work out where you’re going to end up or what you’re meant to be doing/not doing, you just have to follow your gut, jump on opportunities and see where the path takes you.
In work and life I am motivated by… doing stuff I love and making a difference to things or people I care about.
My conservation advice to New Zealanders is… be more aware of the conservation issues on your back doorstep.
Question of the week
What movie could you watch over and over and still love, and what movie snack would you pick to go with it?
Hmmm… sorry but I’ve got to be honest… It’s probably “The Holiday”—cute and cheesy and everyone lives happily ever after, and I could watch Jude Law all day long! My snack would definitely be pineapple lumps.