Jobs at DOC: Laura Porterhouse – Procurement Development Advisor

Department of Conservation —  09/08/2013

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 Laura Porterhouse, Procurement Development Advisor, Wellington.

Laura tramping on Mount Taranaki.

My first tramp in New Zealand – Mt Taranaki

At work

Some things I do in my job include… turning Government economic and procurement policy into DOC policy, and helping people who buy goods and services (i.e. do procurement) in DOC follow and understand it. Sometimes this involves lots of writing (guidelines, templates etc.), sometimes it involves going out and providing advice and training, and sometimes it involves helping figure out complicated procurements that crop up from time to time.

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by… DOC has hundreds of suppliers and spends a lot of money buying goods and services that help us deliver conservation. My work is about helping people get the most for their money and great results from suppliers, as well as making sure we comply with New Zealand’s trade agreements.

Laura searching for whio.

Wading through the icy Roaring Burn river in search of whio

The best bit about my job is… although I’m based in Wellington I get to work with and talk to lots of different people across DOC, who are all doing different jobs in different environments. Getting to see what goes on in so many parts of DOC never gets boring. Coming from Europe, I feel very privileged to work somewhere where I’ve been able to learn so much about New Zealand and the incredible places DOC looks after.

The awesomeist DOC moment I’ve had so far is… when I was in Southland last year to run some procurement workshops and meet staff out in the Areas to learn more about their work.  I was lucky enough to get a helicopter ride over Milford Sound with a group heading out to monitor whio on a beautiful spring day– absolutely amazing!

The DOC employees who inspire me the most are… the people who work quietly behind the scenes, who don’t always get much of a mention, but who are doing a great job and are committed to conservation even if they’re not out on the front line.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that… I can write with both hands.

The song that always cheers me up is… ‘Bean Fields’ (or anything uplifting) by the Penguin Café Orchestra, or ‘Mothership’—the album—when I need to get up and do something.

View of the Salinas, with nothing around.

Stuck on the Salinas with no way out

My best ever holiday was… travelling around South America after a hard slog at college in Buenos Aires. It was a dream come true to see Machu Picchu and the Amazon. A ‘near death experience’ (!) on the Salinas near Bolivia also etched that trip in my memory. Our car lost its spare tyre at 4000m above sea level just as the sun was going down. Two hours drive from the nearest village in shorts and t-shirts, we thought we would freeze to death on the roadside. Eventually someone appeared on the horizon and drove us to safety, obviously!

In my spare time I… go to art college, which means lots of drawing and painting, swearing if this involves accurate three point perspective, and getting told off for turning the front room into an ‘arts and crafts room’.

If I could trade places with any other person for a week – famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional – it would be… Leonardo Da Vinci, so I could harness his talents and incredible way of thinking and seeing the world around him.

Laura's broken down car on the Salinas.

The broken down car

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is… “Life is not about being strong, but about making difficult decisions.”

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is… invest in your shoes and your bed – you spend your life in one or the other.

In life and work I am motivated by… people who work with intense will and extreme humility, who don’t focus on what they’ve accomplished, but simply keep going and find something better to do.

My conservation advice is… everyone can do something for conservation. You don’t have to have the solution to global warming – simple things like planting natives, managing with one less car, and reducing your waste will all have a positive impact on the environment and the other species we share it with.

Laura on Macchu Picchu at sunrise.

Sunrise at Macchu Picchu

Question of the week…

What would you name a book about the story of your life? That’s a tough question. If think if I were to attempt an autobiography at this stage in my life, I’d probably name it something like ‘It’s all gone a bit bongomondo’. The highs and lows of life have been so random, plans have changed and the unexpected happened. You don’t always end up where you think you would be, but sometimes letting go of what you expected leads to a life you could never have imagined.

One response to Jobs at DOC: Laura Porterhouse – Procurement Development Advisor

    Christopher O'Gorman 09/08/2013 at 10:37 am

    Super cool. Go Laura!