After five years of helping take Skydive Abel Tasman to new heights, sales and marketing manager Lisa Chambers is leaving to take up a similar role with Skydive Auckland and Skydive Taupo.
Ms Chambers has been the face of Skydive Abel Tasman around Motueka and the rest of New Zealand ever since she came to a sport skydiving weekend in Motueka while on a trip around the South Island. She stayed on for a couple of weeks to do more skydiving and one day, she said, "I popped my head around [owner] Stuart Bean's door and told him I thought he needed my help.
"I said, ‘Buy me a car, a laptop and a mobile phone and I'll sell you around the world'."
Ms Chambers said it had been an exciting five years, where she woke up every day thrilled to come to work. The job was a perfect fit for her, she said, combining her marketing background - she worked for BMW and Mini in Britain before she emigrated to New Zealand 10 years ago - her previous tourism experience and her passion for skydiving.
When she came to Motueka she had 85 jumps to her name. Now she has clocked up 785.
One of the appeals of her new position is that she will be getting free skydives, which will save her about $5000 a year, but it is also the challenge of taking on new markets such as cruise ships, corporate events and international flight attendants as well as having the stimulation of a big city around her.
While tourism as a whole has been hammered by the challenges of the global recession and high New Zealand dollar, and Skydive Abel Tasman has been challenged by new regulations and the Fox Glacier plane crash that killed friends and colleagues, Ms Chambers said she was proud the skydive business had maintained its numbers and grew in 2012.
She said her national sales trips had paid off -"you can see our brochures from Auckland to Queenstown" - as had the combined effort from her and former Abel Tasman Tourism general manager Lori Keller to lure Kiwi Experience buses to Kaiteriteri from October 2011.
"That regional co-ordination is vital," she said.
For two and half years Ms Chambers co-ordinated a monthly Motueka tourism networking event based at Hot Mama's and since her work has also been her passion, has been an energetic promoter for the region as a whole.
She said her seize-the-day attitude was partly inspired by an horrific car crash she was involved in at Lake Brunner in 2005 that killed the driver of the car she was a passenger in. The driver, Sam Green, was another Englishwoman who was working as Skydive Taupo's limo driver and she and Lisa, along with three friends, were on a guerilla marketing trip around the South Island following the British Lions rugby team.
Ms Chambers still wears Ms Green's ring and said dealing with the aftermath of the "huge, life-changing event" taught her she had the skill set and temperament to work in adventure tourism.
Her new boss had 250 applicants for her job but said he could not find the right person "because whoever he put on would have to compete with me", said Ms Chambers.
Mr Bean said he would miss Ms Chambers both professionally and personally but knew that because of her success, she would probably be headhunted at around the five-year mark. "We're more like a family than a business," he said of the 16 fulltime employee company, adding that the departure of such a key member of the management team would be a valuable opportunity to review aspects of the business.
The new new sales and marketing manager is Christine Gabrielle, a Canadian with extensive corporate marketing experience in the United States. Ms Clifford lives in Motueka and recently became a New Zealand resident.
- © Fairfax NZ News