Jobs at DOC: Andrew Cudby, Planning Manager

Department of Conservation —  24/10/2014

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 Andrew Cudby, Regional Planning Manager based in Nelson.

At work

Some things I do in my job include:

Profile picture of Andrew Cudby at Kaiteriteri Beach.

Enjoying the lifestyle at Kaiteriteri Beach

I am part of a national team, based in regional offices, who work with others in DOC to translate our strategy into planned and prioritised work programmes for delivery across the country.

Within my regional team I have a number of Delivery Planners (who work with others to plan, monitor, and report on our biodiversity and recreation/historic work). I also have Asset Planners, (who administer the system and processes for all our assets), and dedicated Works Officers and Inspectors (who ensure that our assets are being built and maintained to standard).

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Our work is aimed towards ensuring that DOC is doing the right work, in the right way, at the right place, at the right time.

The best bit about my job is:

I am lucky to have a really talented bunch of individuals within my team who do a fantastic job of making me look good. I also enjoy the breadth of the role and having one of the few positions that get a view of the Department from top to bottom and side to side. I even get out of the office occasionally to get muddy boots—any day out is a good day!

Andrew and colleagues enjoying the hot pools on the Copland Track.

The natural hot pools on the Copland Track

The awesome-est DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

Any one of a number of helicopter flights throughout Fiordland, getting a bird’s eye view of Middle Earth. On days like that, working for DOC is a real privilege.

The DOC (or previous DOC) employee that inspires or enthuses me most is:

I have been fortunate since entering DOC in 2006 to work in National Office, Te Anau Area Office, and now in Nelson. This has given me a unique insight into many of the roles (and quite a few of the people) that make up the Department.

Like everyone else, I admire all of the individuals on the front line and back in the trenches who are passionate about wanting to make a positive difference to the Department and in the work they do. That includes those in leadership roles who are working hard to change the culture and how we work together and with others.

Andrew and his son Jamie at Punakaiki.

In Punakaiki on a South Island reconnaissance mission

On a personal note…

The song that always cheers me up is:

‘Out in the Street’ by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. I enjoy listening to a wide range of music but ‘The Boss’ definitely rules the CD player at home and in my car.

For my 50th birthday my wife and kids bought me tickets to his recent concert at Mount Smart Stadium. I missed his first visit 10 years ago and have regretted it ever since—so that was definitely a tick off my bucket list!

My happy place is:

Fiordland is pretty hard to beat, but I am now enjoying the Nelson lifestyle and getting around the region to meet up with my new colleagues and their teams.

I have, however, learnt through experience that it’s not so much where you are but who you’re with that’s important. Having spent a fair bit of time apart over the past year, I am happy now to be discovering new sites in and around Nelson and just hanging out at home with my wife Donna and our kids—Matthew (22), Jaimee (17) and Phoebe (4). Phoebe was our little Fiordland surprise package and is Daddy’s little (fairy) princess.

Andrew hanging out with his family.

Hanging out with my family

My best ever holiday was:

Our South Island family trip in January 2008 on a reconnaissance mission to Te Anau. We got to see all of the best bits of the mainland as tourists, which then led to spending the next five years living and working on the edge of paradise. I still envy those who have successfully made Te Anau their home.

In my spare time I:

Breed alpacas. As part of the move to Te Anau, we planned to buy a lifestyle block and build a Lockwood home on it. We weren’t sure what we wanted to run on the land so we bought a couple of everything including two pregnant alpacas.

Six years on, the other livestock are long gone and we now have 40 alpacas and a small business venture. Needless to say the alpacas are also now enjoying the warmer climate of the Nelson region.

The thing I’m most looking forward to in the next 6 months is:

Funnily enough it will be selling our Lockwood home and lifestyle property in Te Anau that has been on the market for the past year.

Andrew in the snow with a black alpaca.

The joys of breeding alpacas in Fiordland

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

I have a few, but the one I recite most often is from Jurassic Park “Just because we can, doesn’t mean that we should”.

This doesn’t just apply to genetic engineering—and has certainly helped me in more than a few wide ranging debates. It has proved particularly useful when reviewing capital expenditure proposals that focus on the potential of a site rather than what is needed.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is:

I have a background in management accounting and have spent a lot of my time helping managers to balance their cheque books and to consider the financial implications of their decisions (come to think of it I spend a fair amount of time at home doing the same thing).

With that in mind, the best advice I ever received was early in my career from a former colleague who told me, “Your job is not to tell managers what they can and can’t do—It’s to tell them how they can and can’t do it”!

In work and life I am motivated by:

I am motivated by the challenges of working with others up and down and across the Department to improve how we plan and prioritise our work. We also get to influence the pace of change by keeping one foot firmly on the accelerator and the other on the brake.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Don’t underestimate the importance of outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities as a way of changing the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.

In 1987 I spent three months in Fiordland on Operation Raleigh (now Raleigh International) volunteering on conservation projects, such as the formation of the Kepler Track and the establishment of Breaksea Island as a bird sanctuary. It then only took another 19 years to find my way into the Department.

Andrew's daughter dressed as a fair princess.

My little fairy princess Phoebe

Question of the week…

Have you ever had something happen to you that you thought was bad but it turned out to be for the best?

Nothing in particular comes to mind. I guess we’ve all had the odd mishap and a few set-backs along the way, but the real test is how we respond to those challenges (and whether we learn and grow as we go). It probably also helps if we understand that we’re usually only remembered for our last mistake—so the earlier ones don’t really matter.