Tell us a little about yourself (where are you from etc.)
In December 2007 my partner and I packed up our lives and headed off from the quiet little town of Minlaton, South Australia, on the adventure of a lifetime – a road trip around Australia. Working in a variety of roles from picking strawberries to running our own business we explored Tasmania, the East Coast, Cape York, Gulf Country, Darwin and everything in between. We rolled into Broome with our LandCruiser and Caravan in August 2014 and had no real plans on how long we would stay. After a leisurely drive to explore the northern beaches we stopped in at the Willie Creek Pearl Farm to admire the amazing pearls and have a bite to eat from the café. Little did we know we would move in as caretakers the next day and 5 years later here we are!
As the Operations Manager in Broome, what does your job entail?
Every day is different for me with four retail showrooms, three tourism offerings and a hospitality venue that all need to be staffed and operating proficiently I spend the majority of my time working ‘behind the scenes’. From ensuring tour content is accurate, informative and interesting to rostering staff across all sites, I would say that I have a multi-faceted role within the company.
My main focus is to ensure that we are providing quality service in all areas and that each and every one of our guests leave us with a memorable experience that they can share with their friends, family and loved ones.
Tell us how you started working for Willie Creek Pearls?
From the moment we moved into the Pearl Farm as caretakers my interest in the industry began, and of course my love of pearls! I soon started as a Pearl Farm tour guide which was a huge step for me as I had never been a public speaker but being able to share my knowledge and passion far outweighed any fear. From here I progressed through the company stepping up to Manage the Pearl Farm before moving into Broome and adjusting to my current role.
What’s your favourite part of the Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour?
This is a really hard one to choose from… is it seeing our technicians at work in the hatchery during harvest time, viewing the stunning landscape while on the boat, seeing for the first time what one of our amazing oysters has produced during the live pearl harvest, browsing the creative work of our jewellers in the showroom or tasting the famous Mango damper served at morning tea? For me, it is really about seeing the amazement and interest on our guests' faces as we share the story of the Banfield family, the industry and the Pinctada maxima.
What is the best part of your job?
That every day is different and there is always something new to learn. One day I might be in the office getting rosters together and on the bookings phone and email while the next I am in a showroom helping people choose their special piece that will forever be a reminder of their visit to Broome and Willie Creek Pearl Farm.
What’s the toughest part of your job?
With so many moving parts things can change in an instant, keeping up with everything can be a challenge but I wouldn’t use the word tough. In saying that this is why I love my job as I am always having to think on the fly and make adjustments to ensure that we are providing the best possible experiences for our guests.
What is your favourite thing about working with pearls?
Being able to see first-hand the new designs come through from our talented and creative jewellers before deciding which piece I would like to next addition to my collection!
What do you find so special about Australian South Sea Cultured Pearls?
That from an irritant the amazing Pinctada maxima can produce the most revered pearl in the world with each and everyone is different, having its own identity, no two will ever be exactly the same.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about Pearls or Pearling?
I am constantly learning but think the most interesting above all is just the process that occurs and how the Pinctada maxima has the ability to turn an irritant into such an amazing gem. All-round, I never knew that there were so many different types of pearls in the world!
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