Grant Robertson is adept at balancing priorities and managing risk. In 2015 he made the decision to train as a volunteer firefighter to serve his local community in Pukekohe.
Embarking on this journey arose from Grant’s motivation to help others. “It feels good to help someone and save their property. But even if it’s not successful I’m still helping people which I get a kick out of.” While there are risks to the job, Grant gets to enjoy a social atmosphere and the inclusion of family at community events. “I enjoy the adrenaline of the job, and secretly, who doesn’t want to drive a big red fire truck!”
Volunteering as a firefighter is demanding and unpredictable. Emergencies can happen at any time, therefore work flexibility is critical. “We have one of the busiest volunteer brigades in the country with over 500 call outs a year. We’re busiest in summer when everything is really dry, so sometimes I might have to leave the office four to five times a day to attend call outs. Once I was up at 3am fighting a commercial building fire that was still going at 7am. There’s no way I could get to the office that day” Grant explains. “That’s why it’s important for Edison and our clients to be supportive and allow some work flexibility. And that means I need to be flexible too.”
Grant is an early bird. When office based, he beats the Auckland traffic and is at his desk by 6am to enjoy his morning coffee and get down to work, finishing his day around 3pm. “Depending on the work I do, I could be at a client office or onsite. The IT set up means I can work from anywhere with an internet connection.” The ability to work from any location helps Grant support his fire crew during the week. “On weekdays there is a limited number of firefighters working locally. By having the flexibility to work from Pukekohe I can respond to call outs when they come in through the app. I can’t just drop everything and leave a meeting though. So it’s down to me to manage my time.”
Working at Edison has helped Grant make his goal of becoming a volunteer firefighter a reality. “Edison are community focused, so they were supportive from the start. They gave me time off to attend my initial training, and when I have community events I take time off then too.”
Being part of a great team is important to Grant and that attracted him to Edison. “I came here because of the work variety, flat organisational structure and the team of really great people. It’s got a relaxed atmosphere – lots of office banter, everyone chips in and helps each other, and if I need to speak to the GM, I can just pick up the phone.”
So how does Grant unwind from the high pressure that comes with his paid and voluntary career? “I really enjoy getting out on my motorbike. It’s great to get away, unwind and spend time catching up with friends.” It seems even when Grant is relaxing he still needs a challenge.