Women taking the wheel


Diversity is a very important part of Fonterra and we’re always on the look-out for more women to get behind the wheel of our tankers. We already have 66 female Tanker Operators in New Zealand, two in Australia and 32 women employees in National Transport and Logistics, but we know can always do better.

“We recognise the benefits of having a diverse workforce. It’s what our people deserve - diverse thinking, diverse ways of working, more opportunities for creativity and an environment that is inclusive of everyone. Diversity for National Transport means we’re well rounded, have higher prospects for innovation and a greater diversity of skills,” says Kate Shirley, HR Business Partner COO.

So, let’s take a moment to recognise some of the amazing women in our transport team:

Debbie Harding, Red Team Manager, Pahiatua and Longburn

Debbie started as a Tanker Operator in 1996 at our Whareroa site before Kiwi Co-operative Dairy was amalgamated into Fonterra. “I drove tankers until 2018 and then became a Lead Driver, with this job I ran the shift. Then in 2020, I became a Team Manager and now I look after 55 guys and one female.”

“As far as I know I was the first female tanker driver to become permanent, the first woman permanent Lead Driver and now the first permanent Team Manager in all Transport and New Zealand wide.”

Debbie has been around trucks as long as she can remember, “My father was a truck driver and as a kid, I used to go out with him as much as I could. I spent most of my working life in the dairy industry, working at Mainland and Pastoral Foods in Eltham.

“Next, I started farming. I remember saying to a tanker driver when he came to pick my milk up ‘I’m going to be a tanker driver one day’, he looked me up and down as if to say, ‘yeah right’”.

I don't want any woman thinking you have to be ‘thick skinned’ or ‘tough’ to be a tanker driver because you don't, you just have to have the right attitude and desire to do the job well.

Paula Crawshaw, Tanker Operator, Clandeboye

“I’d just like to say that I am very proud of myself at what I have achieved. I would like to thank all the guys I have worked with, who accepted me as a female working in a male dominated world. I have enjoyed every minute and still do. I know my boss is very proud of me, he encourages me all the time,” says Debbie.

Paula Crawshaw – Tanker Operator, Clandeboye

Paula is a L5b Tanker Operator at our Clandeboye site. “My husband has been a tanker driver with Fonterra for 17 years, so, I always had an interest in tanker driving,” says Paula. “I got my class 4 license in 2016 and started a job in 2020 driving a tanker (minus trailer) for a cheese company… a step up to Fonterra was my next goal.”

Paula has only been with us for a few months, but she is off to a cracking start. “My favourite part so far has been the learning, there's so much to learn, and I've enjoyed that.

“I also enjoy being out in the country, seeing parts of Canterbury I've never seen before and never would have.”

Being in a male dominated space is nothing new to Paula, “I spent seven years as a volunteer firefighter and I ride motorbikes. I'm really happy to see Fonterra making a real effort to employ more female drivers, every workplace benefits from gender diversity”.

“It's a great career with great training, modern equipment and job security. I don't want any woman thinking you have to be ‘thick skinned’ or ‘tough’ to be a tanker driver because you don't, you just have to have the right attitude and desire to do the job well.”

Hillary Moffat – Tanker Operator, Reporoa

Hillary was inspired by her late father to become a Tanker Operator and absolutely loves it. Around 10 years ago she decided to try something else and became a qualified Diesel Technician. But she couldn’t stay away, because now she’s back driving with us as a L5b Tanker Operator in Reporoa.

“My heart and passion are behind the wheel of a truck and I know Fonterra are a great company to work for,” she says. “Having that passion and also the dedication to carry on the legacy of my father is what makes me love coming to work.”

Hillary says she’s grateful to work with a great team of people, and always enjoys having the opportunity to have a chat with the farmers while collecting their milk.

Hillary says her team here at Fonterra have always been 100% supportive of her. “I can’t say I've ever felt out of place, I've always felt welcome.

“I've been one of the boys since I can remember. The guys I have worked with and work with now have all been great”.

“Fonterra have the Kiwi attitude when it comes to its people and their families. They make you feel welcome and part of an extended family.”

For any women wanting to go for a job as a Tanker Operator, Hillary’s advice is “Go for it! There is nothing stopping you. The training is amazing and you’re not alone, there's always someone to help if you get stuck, it's awesome”.

We’re always on the hunt for tanker operators – men or women – head to our Careers page here for opportunities.