Industry endorsements great news for councillor

If there’s one thing Jill Hatchwell is delighted with seeing as a Ringa Hora Councillor, it’s the connections made with industry in the pursuit of thriving businesses and workers. 

Jill, who comes primarily from an aviation background, has been on the Ringa Hora Council since its inception and has found the work done involving industries in the Service sector has been invaluable. 

“I think that’s coming through with the endorsements we’re getting from quite a few of our industry sectors and industry associations. Those industry associations are really important because whilst we have a few big clients, the majority of businesses that are within our realm are small to medium enterprises. 

“Some of them are mum-and-dad businesses, and training’s almost an unachievable cost or investment for them, a lot of the time. So we have to reach them through industry associations and make it as easy as possible, with the short sharp qualifications really.” 

Jill studied commerce at Victoria University and worked for a chartered accountancy firm at the beginning of her working life. But she subsequently married a pilot, Peter Vincent, and the pair in the 1990s set up Vincent Aviation, which became one of New Zealand’s largest privately-owned airlines, operating primarily here and in Australia. 

Given that aviation was a strongly regulated sector, vocational training and qualification was very important for businesses and their staff, and it was while working with this that Jill became more closely associated with vocational education, first with the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO) and then ServiceIQ before the formation of Ringa Hora. 

“We had engineers that were doing training and getting certified, not to mention pilots, cabin crew, etc., and now our son and daughter have gone through the same thing,” she says. 

“Getting involved with vocational education was a natural progression, and it was a chance to give back.” 

Jill has very much enjoyed watching the progression of staff through vocational training, and her experience as a business owner has also proved very helpful to the sector as she helps provide the perspective of industry. 

“Aviation is a good example. The mantra we always had is that safety is going to be the key thing, but you’ve also got to have a commercial reality. 

“I’ve got that commercial perspective, having seen the hard times and the good times, but then also being on the board of the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) and looking at the regulatory perspective I’ve seen that side. 

“It’s important that we take account of the commercial reality and understand industry participants and where they’re coming from. It’s an ongoing learning curve.” 

Jill says she’s excited for the future of vocational education as it prepares businesses and staff to deal with whatever hits them in a changing world. 

“You’ve got to make sure the things you can control, you focus on and you do as best as you can, so that when the unknown or the unthinkable happens like Covid or Cyclone Gabrielle, you can deal with it the best you can,” she says. 

“I’ve also found one of the most important things is knowing that you never know it all. You’ve always got to keep your ears open for another point of view and another way of doing things. Knowing this means I think I can listen and add value around the Ringa Hora Council table and say if I disagree with something or ask a question if needed. 

“We have quite a diversity around the Council table, so often we don’t agree on things, but we then have robust discussion and we reach a consensus, which is important.”