IN Antarctica, Rachael Robertson learned there are tough challenges, and there are really tough challenges.
“One day we were outside on quad bikes when the wind picked up and we got whiteout conditions,” Ms Robertson, the former manager of Davis Station, remembered. “I got separated from the group. It was -25, the wind was about 30 kilometres an hour and I couldn’t see a thing. It was terrifying. That’s when the training kicked in. I just followed my GPS and eventually found my way back to base.”
That was a tough challenge but it pales in comparison to managing a team of 18 mostly male workers over winter in the world’s harshest environment.
How to manage in those trying conditions, and how those lessons can be applied to a more normal workplace, is Ms Robertson’s topic this morning when she speaks at the 5th annual Administration Professionals breakfast, hosted by the Committee for Portland.
No stranger to Victoria’s far west, Ms Robertson was a district manager for Parks Victoria from 2001-04, during which she oversaw the local national parks and visited Portland usually twice a month. By chance she spotted an ad in the newspaper calling for a manager for Davis Station in Antarctica for 2004-05. She applied, was chosen, then spent a gruelling winter training at Tasmania’s central plateau, the closest approximation of what she’d soon encounter on the world’s coldest and windiest continent.
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