Women in Forestry - Learning on the job

Women in Forestry - Learning on the job
 October 2021   

Forestry came to me by chance after an engineering adviser came to talk to us in Year 12 and mentioned the forestry school,” says Amy Robinson, Rayonier Matariki Forests Production Manager. “My Granny must have cottoned on to something I said and took me out to her friend’s farm forestry block to have a look around. To be honest I can’t remember thinking much of it at the time.”

Something about that day stuck in her mind though and a year later she joined the “wannabe engineers” who were ushered into a room for help to sign up to a University degree. 

“The lady raised her eyebrows when she asked why I didn’t study physics at school, when I said I didn’t like physics, she promptly followed with... ‘Have you thought about forestry?’ I responded, ‘Okay, I’ll do that then.’ ”

She took to forestry like a chainsaw to a log and before long Amy graduated with first class Honours from Canterbury University’s Forestry Science faculty. It was 2011 and Amy landed a job with Rayonier Matariki Forests (RMF) as a Log Production Coordinator in Whangarei, Northland with her sights firmly set on becoming the company’s first female Production Manager.  

On securing her “first ever real-life job” and having spent the last year at university battling through the disruption caused by the Canterbury quakes, Amy says she was happy to be moving as far away as possible. 

“Since university I had my heart set on working for RMF as they were known as one of the best companies in the industry. I was grateful to be selected to do my dissertation topic with RMF in my final year of studying, so this was a great way for me to learn about the company and vice versa,” she says. 

In Northland she really cut her teeth in forestry, being thrown into a role supervising harvesting crews. There were a lot of challenges starting right out of university, where she found herself as boss dealing with contractors with many years of experience. 

“There were times when I was really tested and had to stand up for myself but I ultimately gained the respect of the crews I supervised.” To such an extent that when she left Northland three-and-a-half years later to move within the company to Canterbury, she received recognition of her contribution by a highly-respected contractor in the industry. Amy still regards this as one of her proudest moments.

“I was very conscious that some people come out of uni thinking they know it all. But it is really just the beginning, as you do your real learning on the job. I gained respect from these guys by listening and learning.”

When she left Northland, she relocated back to Canterbury to join the Rangiora office and continued in the same role, but was exposed to different tasks and challenges as each region has its own distinctive challenges and advantages. 

“During this time, I was involved in a national project looking into harvester head data capture and analysis which saw me...

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