Friday, 08 March 2024 07:55

Driving change within Fonterra fleet

Written by 
Erin Wootten Erin Wootten

Today is International Women’s Day, and this year Fonterra wants to shine a light on the women who defy stereotypes and prosper in traditionally male-dominated fields. Erin Wootten, a tanker operator out of the Fonterra Reparoa Site, is doing just that.

"I always knew I would drive trucks at some stage," says Erin, reminiscing about her childhood spent on her parents’ dairy farm. The arrival of the tanker to pick up their milk was always a highlight, initiating her to pursue a career behind the wheel.

However, her path to becoming a tanker operator took a detour through the tourism industry, where she managed resorts and drove tour coaches. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Erin found herself at a crossroads, prompting a career change.

“The opportunity to join the Co-op as a tanker operator seemed like fate, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Despite this, Erin acknowledges the scarcity of women in her industry, something she would love to see change.

"My work colleagues and the management team are so supportive," she says, highlighting the sense of camaraderie and willingness to help among her peers at Fonterra.

"Whether you are having a good day or a bad day, there is always someone to yarn to,” she says.

The evolving landscape of women’s roles in various industries reflects a positive trend towards inclusivity and equal opportunities.

"Now it seems to be the new normal that both a female and male can both do the job," Erin states, emphasising the importance of breaking down gender barriers.

Looking to the future, Erin hopes future generations of women have even greater opportunities and unwavering confidence in their abilities. She draws inspiration from strong women like Sasha Bond, a world-record-breaking shearer, whose determination, and skill defy the norm.

Outside of work, Erin enjoys spending time with her friends, revelling in adventures like river float trips and exploring exotic destinations with her husband.

She believes International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of how far women have come and the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

“It’s a celebration of resilience, achievements, and the collective strength of women breaking barriers and shaping the future.”

Fonterra currently has 5% females in their fleet and are investing in increasing this number.

The co-op’s general manager national transport and logistics, Paul Phipps says empowering women in transport is a good thing for the industry.

“Diversity behind the wheel not only brings fresh perspectives but also enhances safety and efficiency on our roads. Embracing women in tanker driving roles not only empowers individuals but strengthens our entire transport sector, fostering innovation, inclusivity, and driving positive change for the future of logistics,” says Phipps.

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