Archives For procurement

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.

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 Sourcing Coordinator Hayden Mischefski.

Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world

At work…

What kind of things do you do in your role?

I help the department to achieve the best possible value for money from its supplier relationships, while providing fit-for-purpose, sustainable goods and services.

What is the best part about your job?

Working in DOC’s National Office. It’s an amazing space with a wonderful design. I hope it sets an example, so that the Wellington of the future develops more green buildings based on harmony with the natural environment.

What is the hardest part about your job?

Not sure, I am new here.

What led you to your role in DOC?

Hayden with son Theo

I want my son to enjoy the same experiences I enjoyed as a child, and I have come to view conservation as a right for all New Zealanders. My best memories are doing things like sailing, hiking, camping and fishing. I will never forget skiing down from the summit of Mount Ruapehu!

Also, in my working life I have come to notice the large amount of waste that businesses produce, so I wanted to apply my procurement skills in an area that provided value at both a national and a community level.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Starting at the Department of Conservation.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. My son Theo. We knew it would be an auspicious day: he was born in the middle of both a snow and lightening storm in Masterton.
  2. My wife Amelia.
  3. My registered charitable trust. I started a charity called the KORU trust, also known as the Khmer Orphans Charitable Trust. It aims to help orphans and street children in The Kingdom of Cambodia. I started the trust after returning home from Cambodia. I was inextricably moved by the trip, people and places.

Three pet peeves

  1. Traffic (I catch the train these days).
  2. When the power bill arrives.
  3. When the cats bring in mice.

Three foods

Deep fried tarantulas – tasty!

Anything Asian. I really love curries, rice noodle soups and sushi.

My best memory is being in Vietnam having a bowl of pho from a street side stall in Chau Doc. I also once tried an ant larvae curry and deep fried tarantulas in Cambodia!

I really enjoy cooking shows like Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam and My Sri Lanka with Peter Kuravita. Both shows really highlight amazing seafood dishes packed with flavour.

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. The Tongariro National Park. This is where I learnt to ski and where I caught my first trout with my Dad. I really love the mountains and I have climbed up Mount Raupehu on a number of occasions. Also the Tongariro Crossing is the best day hike in New Zealand.
  2. The Abel Tasman National Park. This is an area of truly remarkable natural beauty.
  3. The Wairarapa. It’s home.

    The amazing Tongariro Crossing

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Movie: Inception. A dream within a dream. I really liked the idea of people collectively sharing the same dream space. The film had so many genres—it’s part heist film and part film noir.
  2. Album: Anything by Jeff Martin’s band “The Tea Party”. They fuse eastern instruments with western rock riffs to create what Rolling Stone magazine called “Moroccan Roll”. Their album “The Edges of Twilight” used over 32 instruments to record the songs. It features exotic instruments like ouds, sitars, sarods and tabla drums to name a few. Their 1997 album merged this style again with electronica to produce an incredibly annihilating album called Transmission; it’s all or nothing in its approach.
  3. Book: If textbooks count then I would recommend “Real Estate Finance and Investments”. I am currently finishing my business degree by correspondence with Massey University. The degree major is in property valuation and property management.

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

  • Stop wasting money on cars.
  • Long hair was never a good look.
  • Flannel shirts are not “grunge”; they just make you look like a lumberjack.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I am really inspired by people who overcome great odds, or who have started with nothing and through their own independence and efforts have created something meaningful from nothing. So in that respect entrepreneurs, explorers and philanthropists inspire me.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Not sure, however, I do remember seeing James Bond movies with my Dad, and thinking the life of a secret agent would be great: action, adventure and travel.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

These days I have my eyes set on philanthropy work. I would like to travel abroad doing charity work like building houses, teaching and helping to tackle poverty with food and water sustainability projects.

Walking Charlie the dog at Castle Point

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Everyone should try to grow us much of their own food as possible. I really enjoy having the space to grow my own fruit trees, vegetables and herbs. It sounds like River Cottage really; it provides a great sense of achievement.

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

At home the potential is unlimited. I would like to install solar hot water and start a small scale hobby farm (Jamie Oliver would love my back section!). I have the room for chickens and sheep. I would also like to rain harvest and insulate the house to reduce energy demands.

At work, I desperately need one of those ‘keep-cups’, because I am a coffee fiend I need to watch out for creating waste with those nasty disposal takeaway cups.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

I would be a morepork (ruru) because they are nocturnal, and I am more a night person. They have amazing stealth too, which is a worthy skill when they go hunting.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

I would probably answer this by reflecting on messages the Dalai Lama has spoken about before. The earth is not only the common heritage of all humankind but also the ultimate source of life. By over-exploiting its resources we are undermining the very basis of our own life.