Jobs at DOC: Paul McGee, Conservation House Officer

Department of Conservation —  04/03/2016

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 Paul McGee, Conservation House Officer in Wellington

At work…

Some things I do in my job include:

I organise property and facilities requests of all sorts, working with DOC staff all over the country, managing contractors and liaising with outside agencies. Some of the most common themes are: furniture, security access, office kits, tours, health and safety. But also do we need more forks? What fridge needs to be replaced? Wow, look at those beautiful plants!

Paul McGee at Cleopatra's Pool in Abel Tasman National Park.

Prepping for a swim at Cleopatra’s Pool

This helps achieve DOC’s vision by:

Supporting a space where others can work their best, all within the goal of efficiently using our resources.

The best bit about my job is:

Working with everyone. In this role I get the opportunity to work with staff around the country and talk to people from a diversity of jobs and backgrounds. Usually it takes time to interact with so many other groups, but in this position, I got to know everyone very fast.

Also, while travelling, in the field, I see our tracks and huts, historic and cultural sites. Really awesome! And I’m proud to tell visitors, yes, I’m part of that!

The scariest DOC moment I’ve had so far is:

When someone got stuck in a Conservation House elevator. Through the glass passenger lift doors I could see panic in their eyes and I was getting pretty worried.

Paul McGee bungy jumping.

Doing the Kawarau Bridge bungy jump, in budgies

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

 I really like Nicola Malloy and it always brightens my day to see her.

On a personal note…

Most people don’t know that:

I speak (or spoke) fluent Malagasy. I lived in Madagascar for a couple of years, in a village where I was the only English speaking person. Not only did I call this village home, I was there to work.  And I’m chatty. So, I was motivated (needed) to learn the local dialect. I’m quite slow with learning languages so this was a bit of a challenge but I got there in the end.

The song that always cheers me up is:

Led Zeppelin, ‘Fool in the Rain’. This song is about a guy who is on the edge of heartbreak, thinking he was stood up by a date. Then realises he’s waiting on the wrong corner. Or pretty much anything from Hot Chip or Beastie Boys.

My happy place is:

A dense forest, I immediately feel calm when surrounded by the shade of large trees.  Also, Goldings Free Dive bar – they host so many delicious New Zealand beers : )

Paul McGee in the Hookey Valley.

My first trek South!

Before working at DOC:

I was living in Seattle. It’s a beautiful city, with fresh air, near mountains and water. Physically and culturally, there are many parallels with Wellington. I worked as a sexual health counsellor at a non-profit for six years then moved to a large corporation where I managed training systems. Feel free to ask me which I had more fun with.

Deep and meaningful…

My favourite quote is:

“It’s not who you are but what you’ve done, that matters.” I find this encouraging, to focus on the present, instead of worrying about the past.

I have also prescribed to the line “eat it up or it will go to waste” which I sometimes think about getting as a tattoo.

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

Remember, we’re all just people. A school teacher told me this as I was prepping for a speech I was really nervous about. It helped calm my nerves then, and still does.

Paul McGee kayaking in Abel Tasman.

Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

In work and life I am motivated by:

People. Learning from others and having fun while doing it. In and out of the office, it’s making and keeping relationships where I find the most meaning.

My conservation advice to New Zealanders is:

Experience more of this beautiful country – in the forests, on the beaches, over the mountains and plains. It’s such an amazing place and the more that enjoy it, the more will be motivated to help conserve it.