Michelle Braid

Forklift Operator

Michelle Braid How long have you been at Port Otago?
Since February 2020.

What did you do before you came to Port Otago?
I was at Foodstuffs for eight years, where I also drove forklifts, assembling and stacking pallets. During my last year, I was sent up to Alexandra to help set up a new depot, which was a great opportunity.

What does your role involve?
People don't believe me when I say "no two days are the same", but it's true. You can be unloading trucks, stacking pallets or loading containers. It takes a lot concentration and you have to bring your A game.

What skills do you need to operate a forklift?
Good spatial awareness and taking care. I'm cautious by nature, which is a good trait in this job. When I applied and sat the Dover* test, I didn't think I'd pass. But I got a really good score, which was such a confidence boost.
You might think driving forklifts is similar, no matter where you work. That's not the case. The forklifts I'm driving at Port Otago are two or three times the size of the machinery I was driving in my old job. And the pallets are heavier and need to be stacked higher.
* Dover is a computer-based psychometric aptitude measurement tool that assesses a person's aptitude for mobile machinery operation.

Do you have your eye on any particular job at port?
I'd really like to drive the straddles. That said, I do enjoy my current hours of work – Monday to Friday, 7am to 3.30pm.

Best part of your job?
It's the people. My team are so easy to work with.
Another great part of working at port is the variety. I started in the dairy warehouses, moving pallets of milk powder and I'm now with the MDF and timber team. It's great getting experience across different parts of the business, learning how a port operates. It also means I can fill in where I'm needed.

Any challenges?
It does take time to get used to the scale of the machinery and warehousing. It can be quite intimidating at first, if you're used to smaller machines and lower stacks. But you soon get used to it.