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Interview with
Joanna Jones
East Tamaki Laboratory Manager

Jo is an Engineering Geologist who leads the field-testing team in East Tamaki, Auckland.

A Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geography cemented Jo's passion for all things rocks which is fortunate for Coffey as we’ve had the privilege of Jo’s technical expertise for seven and half years working on many of New Zealand’s major infrastructure projects.

What inspired you to get into that field of study?

When I was growing up I loved everything about natural hazards, but it wasn’t until I received a score of 20/20 in a rock identification test in Year 11 Geography that it really hit home. The rest, they say, is history!

Like many people, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished school, so I choose a degree that I was really interested in.

How long have you been working at Coffey? 

I have worked at Coffey for seven and a half years. I started in Geotechnics as a field-testing team leader and 2IC and then at the beginning of 2016 I was appointed Manager of East Tamaki Laboratory which is where I remain today.  

What originally attracted you to Coffey?

I chose to join Coffey because of the strong technical knowledge of senior staff leading the industry and the opportunity to work on large infrastructure projects. 

Tell us about some of the projects you've worked on at Coffey that have been most inspiration to you.

The SH16 Causeway Upgrade Project was one of the turning points in my career where I gained so much knowledge about linking geological modelling with geotechnical engineering. I worked on the tender for 12 weeks and then undertook the detailed design phase for a year.

Another great project was Transmission Gully Motorway which required indepth, expert knowledge to ensure accurate logging of the soil and rock mass; data that otherwise could potentially be interpreted incorrectly or become skewed.

Tell us about the challenges and rewards you face in your role?

Being a female working in a male dominated industry has its challenges. It is important to be confident and stand your ground, if you second guess yourself you leave the door wide open to be unnecessarily scrutinized. The engineering aspect of my role was always going to be a challenge for me because I choose to major in Geology which is where my true passion lies.

I find different aspects of my role at Coffey rewarding. I have been involved with several tenders and detailed design projects where I was generating geological models from a lot of investigative data.  My promotion to East Tamaki Manager after joining the testing team as 2IC was a tremendous accolade; I felt it was an acknowledgement of my dedication and commitment to my role at Coffey and the business. I was then able to make the testing business profitable; that was always going to be rewarding!

Sharing my knowledge to develop my staff is another aspect of my role that I enjoy. I have been teaching the technicians why certain aspects of our testing are important to the Consultants so rather than just providing the results they understand what they mean. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself starting out in your career?

Be confident in your knowledge and don't be afraid if you don't know something; there is always a way to find the answer.