The Grill | Jackie Spiteri, Environmental Advisor
Where did you grow up?
Brecon Beacons, Wales, United Kingdom
When you were growing up what job did you want to do?
I wanted to be an archaeologist. I grew up in an old house and would often find fragments of bones and china in the vegetable garden.
Why did you come to Australia?
My husband is Australian. We met whilst I was completing my MSc in the Caribbean. The plan was to do five years here and five years in Wales but I have now been here for over ten.
How could use what you learnt in your training overseas in your role in Australia?
I studied my undergraduate at Swansea Institute (South Wales) and my post graduate at Bangor School of Ocean Sciences (North Wales). There were some adjustments in coming to Australia to practise my profession.The heat is an obvious one. I actually found that the principles of environmental management in Wales were quite similar to Australia. However, I had to familiarise myself with the differing legislation and get up to speed with all of the native flora and fauna. It is a work in progress.
What attracted you to your current job?
Working in an environment that means something to so many people. The role is challenging and diverse. It is a large and dynamic port. I have been here for eight years and certainly don’t know everything. I still find myself learning new things and gaining new experiences every day.
What do you do in your spare time/do you have any hobbies?
These days I mostly spend my spare time with my family. I like to be outside. I also like to think I am quite creative so often have little projects going. Most recently I have made a table and we have bees, so I have been playing with the wax.
Do you play sport or play an instrument?
I sporadically go to yoga classes and will often ride or walk to work. Other than that no, although I would love to learn to sing.
What are some of the challenges of working in an environment role?
There are challenges in balancing the need to keep the business operating unhindered while also ensuring an active and sustainable environmental management plan that is suitable for the future. Forme building positive relationships and trust with stakeholders, both internal and external, has been critical to achieving this balance. Being able to demonstrate the benefits of environmental improvements in terms of economic, social and environmental outcomes is imperative. Working for a business that recognises the importance of its social licence to operate and the need to develop a sustainable port certainly helps embed the right culture.
Who are some of your role models?
David Attenborough, for his passion and understanding of the natural world. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (Lady Gaga) for her ability and her achievements.
What makes your work satisfying and rewarding?
The ability to drive positive change and know that I am helping to create a resilient and sustainable port for the future
What are your secrets for maintaining a good work/life balance?
It’s hard at times. I have a five year old daughter, Florabella. Seeing how quickly she is growing up is a reminder to switch off and cherish time with my family. I am lucky to work for a company that supports a positive work-life balance.
If you were to name a ship, what would it be and why?
Santorini Moonshine – I used to sail with my dad growing up and these words make me think of him.
What is something you’ve done in your current role that you’re proud of?
It is important to recognise that to affect global change, there needs to be a degree of consistency in the approach to environmental management. Recognising the importance of this has triggered Port of Newcastle to sign up to the ECOSLC (Sustainable Logistics Chain) Eco Ports initiative. Eco Ports is a global network of ports and terminals all committed to improving environmental management and sustainability outcomes through the adoption of an environmental management system framework developed specifically for the industry, it also provides a platform for best practice knowledge sharing.
What advice would you give someone?
Be prepared to expand your knowledge base exponentially, try to gain as much workplace experience as you can during your studies and love what you do.