Sappi Forests KZN
Forestry career: 18 years
In my role, I aim to achieve our objective of creating shared value that promotes local economic activity in rural areas where we operate, ensuring sustainability in all we do. In the process, becoming a trusted partner to our stakeholders, through building and maintaining a positive reputation, whilst also proactively managing risks that could impact negatively on our operations.
Stakeholder engagement, risk and crisis management, branding, sponsorships and CSI programmes, media relations and employee engagement are all important aspects of this role; especially as the working environment itself is challenging and often geographically remote. From a communications perspective we operate in a complex environment, made up from a very wide audience of stakeholders, spread across a spectrum of recipients differing vastly in cultural, educational and social circumstances.
WHY I LOVE WORKING IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR
Working in an environment which is blessed with producing an abundance of essential products from renewable resources – in a time when everything else is plastic, or causes harm to the planet – is quite inspiring! In addition, the forestry industry provides a wealth of opportunities for so many participants in the value chain – thousands of people are earning a modest living from this sector. There are many misconceptions out there relating to forestry – the most popular one being that we should ‘save the trees’ and use less paper. From a communications perspective, it remains one of our biggest challenges to slay some of these myths, and to continue spreading the good news about the wonders of wood fibre.
MY ADVICE TO THOSE EXPLORING A CAREER IN FORESTRY
Girls entering this sector should have a love and respect for nature, should know that they are going to be challenged in entering what is traditionally known as a very male-dominated environment; but also look forward to the fact that they are ultimately equipped to make a meaningful difference by contributing to creating shared value for our rural economies in their chosen careers.