New Central manager has bags of rural experience

Andi Barbati, Central zone delivery manager

Andy Barbati, Central zone delivery manager

New central zone delivery manager Andy Barbati has been through a lot in the past nine years - from the earthquakes to taking on the role of a lifetime - and lots in between.

The role of a zone delivery manager is varied in its day to day operation, but someone in that role - generally speaking - works to achieve greater connectivity between a company and the community. 

In the role of zone delivery lead, Andy drives and supports a multi-disciplinary team and, together with the zone manager, works to make real gains with the community and environmental outcomes.

He also coordinates the organisational response to complex issues and works to find solutions.

Andy delivers for Environment Canterbury's central zones

At the time the February 2011 earthquake struck, Andy had just started a job with Environment Canterbury in a monitoring role.

Fast forward nine years – Andy is still with ECan, having moved up the ranks to now be in charge of zone delivery for ‘Central’, which consists of Christchurch-West MeltonBanks Peninsula; and Selwyn-WaihoraYou can view the zones on this map.

“Last month I took the job as the central zone delivery manager. Prior to that, I was in Wales in a similar role, but in waste management.

“All that previous experience has helped me greatly in preparing for this job. It’s helpful as a manager when you’re being pulled in all directions, having that knowledge from past positions.

“I mean, projects needing approval, the financial side of things, talking with stakeholders for additional funding, compliance. It can be a challenge at times, that’s for sure, but all that previous really helps you navigate,” he said.

How does Andy do what he does?

Every day is different for Andy – even if it may not look it from the outside in.

“Even if I’m supposedly booked out all day it usually doesn’t end up that way. Different things pop up across any of the zones and that usually changes my plans for me,” he said.

Andy said being exposed to an advisory role early on gave him a great understanding of rural communities, Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) and in particular putting initiatives in place to achieve outcomes.

That experience all those years ago has helped shape the way he works today, allowing him to have a good grasp on the happenings in each of the three zones he manages.

“In dealing with those it gives you a clearer understanding of how to deal with similar situations in future," he said.

Any projects I would have heard of?

One of the exciting projects currently underway for Andy and his team is called the Triple O programme.

“That’s the Objectionable Offensive Odour programme, and the different ways we’re looking at solving those problems in the likes of Bromley and Cashmere.

“A project like this has never been done before in Canterbury, as far as we know, so it’s exciting to be one of its leaders.

“I have a great team of people around me too, made up of GIS (Geographic Information System mapping), delivery, the regional support unit, as well as science and planning too,” he said.

Another programme is underway in Lyttelton Harbour, and it’s a project close to Andy’s heart.

“We have a new planting programme we’re implementing in Whakaraupō which is special as I live out that way – that’ll be riparian planting to reduce sediment in the water and allow it to revegetate,” he said.

What's Andy's background?

Andy and his partner had been in Christchurch for only a few months when the February 2011 quake struck.

He was nearly 19,000km from his family - the easy decision would have been to pack up and move home with his partner and their Springer Spaniel.

But it took the pair just five minutes to make a life-changing decision to stay and make the best out of a terrible situation.

“I just missed the 7.1 (quake) but got the rest, unfortunately,” he said.

“I remember straight after the (6.3) quake; my partner and I were in the car and thought hard about our future.

“We decided we wanted to stay and help with the rebuild of Canterbury. It didn’t take us long to come to that decision, really fast in fact,” he said.

Now living in one of the zones he manages - Banks Peninsula - Andy said he wouldn't have it any other way.

“The beauty of the harbour is what drew me out there eight years ago. But the community out there is what makes me stay – mostly everyone has the same values. Space and quiet make it so special.”

“In my spare time I like to go running, I cycle to the ferry and catch the bus every morning after I take the dog for a walk. I’m a morning person so I take her in the mornings and my partner takes her in the evening.

“It was an easy decision for me to go for this job. The zones that we look after are really important to me personally, living in Banks Peninsula and working in Christchurch-West Melton; and in Selwyn-Waihora I used to do a lot of monitoring out there, years back,” he said.

Family does cross his mind, but the pull of both job and lifestyle are keeping him away from the northern reaches of Italy for the time being.

“All my family still live in Italy and come to visit every two years or so. I haven’t been back in about six years I think, so that could be next on the list.

“I miss the food sometimes, but I’ve been away for about 20 years now, so I’m pretty accustomed to being away.

“The seasons are quite extreme in Italy, cold winters and hot humid, sticky summers,” he said.