With 65 staff across 8 ground base crews to coordinate, Jensen Logging’s Harvesting Manager Rachael Brown is passionate about the people in the business.
Growing up in a logging family, Rachael says she has always loved being in the bush and being around forestry.
Mum Margaret and Dad Russell started the business more than 45 years ago, first in Silviculture, then taking on a thinning contract about 10-12 years later.
“I love the great outdoors, and I’ve always been involved on the fringes,” she says.
It wasn’t until four years ago that Rachael stepped in to help fulltime in the business.
“Dad was getting older…and I felt that it was time to see him have the opportunity to start to put his feet up and have someone else share some of the stress load,” she says.
“We sat down and talked about whether there was scope for me to get more involved and lighten his load.”
She now commutes daily from Tauranga to Rotorua each day, working alongside Russell and the rest of the management team.
“Dad was very keen to have me on board and has thrown a lot of things my way, like tenders, health and safety, and helping to oversee the harvesting side of the business,” she says.
“To me it’s Dad’s business – it always has been and always will be. I’ll always treat it as such and make decisions that respect him. I’ll only run things knowing he’s in my back ear.”
Rachael says working with her Dad is an honour.
“Dad’s still very involved in the business, he comes out to visit our crews and gets involved in production discussions mostly nowadays,” she says.
“He involves me in a lot of decisions and supports my ideas. He also tells me to pull my head in sometimes,” she laughs.
It’s clear that Rachael has a passion for people in everything she does.
“This business is about the people. I love the people that are out here…they’re special people that love what they do. This is their life and I love to see them enjoy what they do. They can provide for their whanau and have a reason to get up in the morning,” she says.
“I count it a real privilege to be out there, especially when we have so much variety in what we do.”
“I love the characters. They’re so committed to what they do…it’s a great industry to be a part of.”
Rachael says having a woman involved at management level brings a new perspective.
“It’s nice to have a woman involved sometimes. People talk to me about different stuff and feel more comfortable about discussing some things with me,” she says.
“You’ve got to be a lawyer, a doctor, a counsellor, a social worker – you’ve got to wear so many hats, especially when you’ve got so many people in the business.”
She says stepping back into the business full time has been a big learning curve, helped by the supportive people in the Jensen Logging team.
“I love learning, love getting about and seeing things through other people’s eyes. We have such great people at Jensen Logging,” she says.
“I have a lot of people around me who I could never do without. Russell Brown (Operations Manager) is someone I spend a good deal of time with and I appreciate every one of those days, as I always learn something new or have a pearl of wisdom imparted to me.”
Her leadership style is all about collaboration.
“My leadership style is very collaborative, partly because I don’t have the full experience and knowledge that comes from being in the industry for years, and partly because I just love working with people,” she says.
“You never want to waste all that skill and knowledge around you.”
When asked what it was like coming into the industry and business at management level,
Rachael says the supportive team have helped make the transition easier.
“I’ve tried to show people I’m up for the challenge, that I want to be involved and I’ve tried to work alongside people to gain their trust and respect,” she says.
“I am aware I’m still the ‘new pup on the block’ at times, but I’m determined to keep working and keep learning.”
She encourages other women to dive in and give it a go too.
“Keep going, there are always opportunities out there for women,” she says.
“Women fit in well, they just bring a bit of different flavour to the place.”
Jensen Logging – the lowdown
In business for 45 years, founded in Whangarei, now based in Rotorua
- 3 clear fell crews (fully mechanised)
- 1 salvage crew (motor manual processing and mechanised felling)
- 1 road lining crew
- 3 production thinning crews
Working largely in the Bay of Plenty region, predominantly in Kaingaroa Forest