In News, Scania4 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 18, 2021

Rachael Croad has done everything from hairdressing to being a flight attendant, but her first passion has always been transport. Now, she‘s well into her career as a truckie.

Photo: Rachael at the modern OCD plant at Awarua near Invercargill.

Rachael Croad was born in Marlborough but grew up in Levin. As a schoolgirl, she was attracted to the idea of a life in trucking, especially after attending a careers seminar at Waiopehu College. She didn‘t immediately jump in boots and all so to speak, but first tried various other occupations, including having her own hairdressing business before working as a flight attendant, flying domestically with Ansett New Zealand for three years, ex-Wellington. She was one of 1100 people displaced when the company went into receivership. She then worked for six years in a management position for McDonald‘s in Invercargill. In 2015 she decided to follow her curiosity in trucking and enrolled at the Southland Institute of Technology to do a course in road transport. The practical side of trucking took off for Rachael when she worked as a recruitment officer for a reliefdriver company and then as a driver for Heenans Transport at Woodlands in Southland, mainly involved with silage harvests. Three years ago, she became a part of the driver team at Southern Milk Transport, based at the Open Country Dairy (OCD) plant near Invercargill.

Both Rachael and Brett Hamilton, director and manager of this operation, see many parallels between the aviation and the milkrelocation industries. These include communication systems and safety structures that align with aviation standards to keep the operators as safe as possible. Rachael says that Ansett looked after its people from the top down. The Open Country Dairy tanker team has grown from 18 to 85 since 2014, and about 20% of the drivers are women. “Brett respects his people and fits their shift patterns to suit their various lifestyles,” she says. Scania is the sole brand of choice for the OCD fleet and reflects the company‘s commitment to high-tech developments and safety standards. Rachael drives a 2019 G500 model from the Swedish manufacturer. One of 21 women in a maledominated environment, she finds the men all pretty good to work with. At first, the entire industry was “overwhelmingly mind-boggling” with so much more to learn than tanker operations. As well as learning about normal heavycommercial operations, she quickly had to understand aspects specific to OCD, such as cleaning systems, milkquality controls, milk sampling and pumping, unloading procedure, and regional geography. Training for the milk side of the profession was done in-house to meet OCD and MPI regulations and requirements. “There are good work structures and everyone respects the gear they are assigned to.” She says she loves it out there because she represents OCD‘s brand. And likes the independence as her “own boss in the cab”.

Photos: Smiles confirm her contentment in her career choice as Rachael makes the connection between farm and factory;

Photo: Opening the meter cabinet on the OCD tanker and stowing carry-on baggage in the overhead luggage compartment are about the closest tasks Rachael has to perform in her current career compared with previous roles;

Photo: “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We will be serving tea and coffee soon” – Rachael addressing the passengers aboard an Ansett flight;

Photo: About to greet passengers; 

Photo: Rachael with Brett Hamilton, OCD director and manager.