We catch up with Sarah Barrell

We catch up with Sarah Barrell

We caught up with Sarah Barrell as part of our Women of the Waterfront series celebrating the women that work in Auckland’s waterfront.

Tell us about yourself and what you do in the waterfront.

When I am not responding to emails and invites, I try to get out in the marina and keep an eye on what is going on. If it is raining I encourage my staff to do it.

We watch out for contractors, owners, skippers, and now construction workers to make sure they are all safe in the marina, I love it when something goes wrong with a vessel, and we have to run out the office to the rescue…. Its like a scene from paw-patrol….

The power of intention – How did you design your life and career path? Or did it evolve?

I trained at college as a fitness instructor, and quickly realised I was just a glorified salesperson for a large chain of gyms.

The opportunity came up to join Superyachts when I was 22. I had no idea what I was getting in to and so flew out to join my first boat within a week. I spent five years being paid to see the most beautiful parts of the world, that I could never afford to travel to.

I came to New Zealand for a six week stay to complete my Yacht-Master certificate 11 years ago, and never left. (I took leave from my job as a deckhand on a Superyacht in the Bahamas and never returned. I hope they are not still waiting for me to come back.) I took a job at the Viaduct as a temporary fill in and loved it so much I am still here 10 years on. I have been extremely fortunate that I have fallen in to some amazing opportunities.  

Did your job exist when you were at school?

Yes, my husband was doing it back then. He is a little older than me…

What are some of the unique experiences/greatest successes you’ve had in this role?

Honestly, its not glamourous, but it was moving the storage position of rubbish bins off the dock, and up on to the land. Every storm we had, we would lose the bins in to the ocean. One day I was calling waste management for more replacement bins and realised that it was not a particularly sustainable way of operating. So now the bins are in a beautiful enclosure up on Te Wero Island.

How do you maintain balance in your life? Work, family, social?

I get up at 5.00 am and go to the gym. That is the only time of day that I feel like I shouldn’t be doing something else. I go to work for a rest (I cycle in if I can) then I celebrate the fact I cycled home and didn’t get killed on the way with a nice cold beer.

We have an escape on the Kaipara that we go to on the weekends. Unfortunately, there happens to be no phone signal up there, so my “on-call” weekends are usually fairly quiet. 

Embrace the lessons – What challenges have you experienced that have shaped you as a person the most?

I broke my back when I was 16. I had to spend six weeks lying on my back in a hospital ward. I wasn’t allowed to get up for anything, not even to go to the toilet. You can only imagine how un-dignifying that was. BUT, when something like that happens, you appreciate life. And for a 16yr old girl, I think it made me who I am today, I cram as much into every day as I can, because it’s true - everything can change in a split second - so no regrets.

A lot of people don’t take a girl seriously in this industry, until they need something. I have learnt when to bite my tongue, and I have learnt an awful lot about patience and restraint from my manager. John Matla is fantastic.

Shero’s & Hero’s – Who are your role models & why?

Lance Armstrong. Everyone was blood doping back then, but he was given less than 10% survival after his testicular cancer, which had spread to his brain, lungs and abdomen, and he went on to win the Tour de France 7 times in a row. He never gave up. That is impressive.

Julia Gillard, for standing up for her country.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Probably, “don’t spend Valentines day with your maths teacher…”

I would say, take every opportunity that you can, I would always rather regret doing something I didn’t enjoy, than not doing something and wondering for the rest of my life if I should have done it or not.

Also don’t sweat the small stuff, perspective is everything.

But I wouldn’t have listened…

How do you try to encourage/empower the women in your life to achieve to their full potential?

I hope that people look up to me. I try to be a role model to my daughter by being honest and standing up for what I believe in. It shouldn’t matter what sex you are, if you want to do something, chase it and chase it hard. I try to encourage everyone.

What’s your favourite place on the waterfront/thing to do/about the waterfront?

I love being in the boats, driving around the marina. Every time I do that I am thankfull that I have a job I enjoy. It is a rare day that I don’t want to come to work.

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