New Nelmac chief executive Jane Sheard says she is committed to being fair. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Nelmac ups wages to secure key talent

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Jane Sheard believes in paying a fair wage for a fair day’s work.

The English native recently arrived in Nelson to start in the top job at the Nelson City Council-owned environmental management company, Nelmac.

With her she brings years of upper management experience from industries as diverse as extreme sports and oil and gas.

Jane says the company’s future is in its conservation arm, Kumanu.

“That is the growth for us in becoming an environmental specialist.”

But she says there is no use having a vision if you can’t attract people to the roles. Right now, they have 50 new jobs in a company that employs 250 people and turns over about $35 million a year.

“I always want to make sure it’s fair. I wouldn’t be proud of leading a team below minimum wage.”

Jane says the affordability of the region is a concern.

“To be frank, I’m here renting a house, but the rents are horrendous. I don’t see how anyone who is underpaid can afford to live here. We have a massive problem with recruitment and attraction to the area.”

To that end she is trying to work with other large employers in the region to share job lists so that if someone is thinking about moving here, they can suggest another potential role for their partner or spouse.

“All the businesses are fighting for the same people. If we get together and make sure people can afford to live here, it’s a win win.”

The company has proactively increased its minimum hourly rate in advance of the Government-enforced movement to a minimum wage of $18.90 set for 2020. Almost 80 percent of Nelmac staff are already being paid more than the 2019 living wage.

Jane comes to Nelson after two and a half years working in an executive role in Australia. She was planning on moving back to the UK but then she met a Kiwi and moved to Te Anau. Then the job at Nelmac came up.

After raising her family, she went back to night school to study management and then studied for her MBA while she worked.

But now Jane has her eyes on the company’s conservation future.

“We want to be guardians. We are excited about it.”