19 May 2015
Q+A: Phil Williams
Forestry Account Manager, Competenz
“Do I relate to our learners? Yes, I was just like them. I always wanted to do something outside. And, I joined the New Zealand Forest Service straight from school.”
Born and bred in Otago, Phil Williams, our man on the ground in Dunedin, went from tending New Zealand’s state-owned forests to running quarantine on the South Island’s ports and his own timber treatment company. In 1999, he joined the Forest Industries Training and Education Council (FITEC), now Competenz.
What’s a typical day on the job?
Contractors and assessors start calling at 6.00am. In the office, I work on training plans and resource materials, and invoicing. But, I spend most of my time outside, visiting crews and apprentices.
What are the challenges?
Can I say paperwork? Also, trying to find the right fit between qualification requirements and the way people actually work onsite.
How has the industry changed?
It’s more mechanised, which is a big change. Productivity has increased, people are better trained and the industry is safer overall.
What do you wish people knew about forestry?
That it’s a safe industry. The true test is: ‘Would you let your son do it?’ And, the answer is: ‘Yes’. There are always a few cowboys out there, but most good crews are safe.
What surprises you most about forestry?
(Laughs) It’s been so long that nothing surprises me. Actually, I think people would be surprised at the high level of skill that forestry workers have. Most people don’t know, because they never see it.
What would most people be surprised to know about you?
I’m the president of the Beaumont Racing Club, which runs a race day once a year. I’ve had part shares in horses for a long time. And, I used to help out.