GM Strategy and Sustainability
Rhys, GM of our Strategy and Sustainability team shares with us his favourite sustainability initiatives as well as what he's happiest doing when he's not working.
What do you do at the airport? I look after the Strategy and Sustainability team. We help support the airport’s Master Plan by:
- Guiding overall direction of airport assets and development
- Providing for the property programme by obtaining resource consents
- Helping drive improved sustainability outcomes though our Green Transition Plan.
You’ve been at the airport for 20 years, what has kept you here? Very clichéd – but it’s the people. In our work life most people seek a sense of achievement, of knowing you have made a positive contribution. I’ve chosen to stay at Christchurch Airport because we have a great team and culture that translates to us being exceptionally good at getting stuff done. We set ourselves challenging tasks and work together to achieve them. I’m not aware of any other workplace in our part of the world that has a comparable record.
Most memorable airport experience? Christchurch Airport used to compete in corporate Dragon Boat events and for a few years we had fun, not taking the competitive side too seriously. In 2007 we changed things up. As a group, we set our sights on winning and made commitments to one another to put the work in to make it happen. When the business end of the season came around, we started winning races locally, we went to Wellington and won our first regatta, and one glorious afternoon a few weeks later, we won the Corporate Teams National Championships race. Then turned around, paddled back to the start line and beat all of the best South Island club teams as well.
Favourite sustainability initiative? I have two.
1. The replacement of fossil fuel boilers in the airport terminal with heat pump technology, which will reduce our carbon footprint by approximately 1,000 tonnes per year.
2. Providing infrastructure to airline operators to allow them to use low emissions South Island grid energy, instead of kerosene burning Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) while they are parked at our terminal. These Ground Power Units (GPUs) save aircraft having to burn fuel to run their systems and save airlines tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions every year.
What interesting areas did you work in pre-airport? Before Christchurch (BC) I spent four years working in Hong Kong and one in the UK. In Hong Kong, I worked for the HK Airport Authority and was part of the huge project team that delivered the new airport near Lantau. During that time, I developed a passion for airport project work that has stayed with me. This wasn’t my first job in Hong Kong though. For my first six months in the former colony, some might be surprised to know I was a bouncer at a British pub called Mad Dogs, and then an Immigration Official for the New Zealand Consulate.
What is it about New Zealand that made you want to move back from London? The South Island. I grew up spending most of my life in Dunedin and Central Otago. I missed the open country, the clear skies and the company of friends and family back home. I’d enjoyed my time overseas, but never intended to stay away forever.
What are you happiest doing when you aren’t working? Going on family holidays and adventure bike trips with my old man posse.
Biggest life accomplishment? Being a Dad. Will be working at that one for the remainder.
What’s something you’re looking forward to? Being a part of the team that works on the dream of a new airport in Tarras. Also, holidays! I love going on little holiday adventures around NZ with my family. I must have my next holiday planned within a week or two of returning from my last, otherwise I start getting anxious.