Lisa Grant was already a successful industry figure when she decided she could do more. Here, Lisa tells us about her motivation to undertake a marine industry apprenticeship to build on the impact she’d made in an industry she’d grown to love. Lisa Grant is a highly successful sales person, and has built a sterling reputation for herself within the marine industry. Now sales consultant at So-Pac Marine, Lisa has also taken part in New Zealand Marine industry training and speciﬁcally, the apprenticeship program. So-Pac takes pride in quality products and service, and Lisa embodies this mantra, and her efforts covering the length of the country to ensure she speaks with clients in person has seen her become a much-loved face within the sector. We sat down with her to hear more about her story, and how undertaking training through the NZ Marine Industry Training Organisation (NZ Marine ITO) enabled her to further her career. Lisa made her first foray into the marine industry with a customer service and sales role at Fyran Marine Ltd, back in 2004. Family Boats followed that, with eight years at Gineico Marine cementing her interest in the marine sector, before she took up a position with So-Pac. It was while with Gineico that Lisa undertook a Marine Retail and Distribution Level 4 apprenticeship over three years, with the support and encouragement of NZ Marine ITO field officer, Mike Birdsall. “Mike Birdsall had approached me about undertaking an apprenticeship and I felt that as I had no other real training in the industry – apart from on-the-job training – it was a good opportunity to improve and up-skill to further myself in an industry I had grown to love,” Lisa tells us. Mike Birdsall was to prove instrumental in Lisa’s course of study. As the smallest industry training organisation in the country, NZ Marine ITO’s field officers provide a very hands-on experience for the apprentices whose work they oversee. “The content requires considerable time to complete and is very theoretical,” Birdsall says. His approach saw him help Lisa work through her notes, while making the training something that was as enjoyable as possible, and ensuring it was applicable to her work. “It’s always easier to learn if you can apply the content to relevant and real situations. Lisa is genuinely enthusiastic about the marine industry and that was number one.” Though the programme was challenging, Lisa says she enjoyed working through the course – even if her full-time position with an overseas-based company added extra obstacles to her course. “I was running Gineico by myself so I was accounts, customer service, sales, purchaser, cleaner and everything in between. My work load was far more than the average, as suppliers in Italy would only be available in the middle of the night. Otherwise I think it would have been much easier!” Lisa tells us that taking part in the NZ Marine ITO training programme has changed her career by delivering her more confidence and knowledge in her career in the marine industry. “I learnt to not to be afraid of taking on a new challenge – even at my age. I think I was the only woman undertaking training through the NZ Marine ITO at the time, and far older than the other apprentices” says Lisa with a smile. “Though I had a few unrelated personal hurdles along the way, the feeling of achievement I had at the end of the programme – the pride that I’d succeeded – were second to none.” Lisa says that Birdsall’s support was instrumental to her completion of the course, and that his fantastic support and encouragement made the difference for her. “Lisa had experienced the apprenticeship programme before she undertook her training, as she had employed a young woman who had been training with another company. I continued to visit her and needed Lisa to act in a verification role. The content of the apprenticeship piqued her interest and she realised that she herself could learn more and it would benefit her. The Retail qualification has some very thorough units relating to standards and acts. It was these areas that Lisa found most beneficial,” says Birdsall. So what’s next for Lisa Grant? She tells us she found the training programme so valuable she’d happily undertake another apprenticeship. Not just yet however, for now she’ll be reaping the fruits of her labour as she continues the good work at So-Pac, travelling the breadth of the country to spread her love of, and passion for, the marine sector.