She started out thinking she was going to be a hairdresser, but her work experience and commitment to learning since leaving school has driven Amber Ledingham down a completely different road, into Z Energy service stations.
Today, at just 25 years-old, she’s relishing a high-octane career as Course and Training Manager for Z Retailer Hattrick Services, in Christchurch. It’s Amber’s job to oversee the skills and career development for around 148 staff at fourteen Z Energy sites around the city, which are owned by Hattrick Services.
The high performer’s journey started out when she left school at age 17 and moved from her home town of Kakanui near Oamaru, in search of her dream job in Dunedin.
Unable to find an apprenticeship at a hair salon, she was not deterred.
Instead, she poured herself into a job as a barista, brewing coffee for thousands of customers in the city’s busiest McDonald’s restaurant.
At the same time, she accelerated her career opportunities by training on-job and enrolling in distance learning.
Amber worked her way up to Crew Trainer then Café Manager. By the time she left the job five years later, she’d motored through multiple qualifications including a: National Certificate in Hospitality, Certificate in Tertiary Study Skills and Business Communication, Certificate in Customer Relations, and a Diploma in Design and Decoration.
A move in 2014 to be with her partner in Christchurch turned out to be a move from fast food into the fast lane for her career.
After applying for 294 jobs, Amber got two interviews, one as a barista at Z Energy in Hornby. However, when the Z Energy site owner realised her previous experience and qualifications, she got hired not for her coffee-making skills, but as the station’s Site Manager instead.
Amber credits her ability to train and study for her success, saying: “Learning by doing works really well for me and is more effective that being in a classroom setting.
“I always said I didn’t want just a job I wanted a career. Everyone tells me my achievements are huge for my age. But I’m probably most proud of the fact that since leaving school I’ve studied non-stop and worked full time.”
On accepting the site manager role, Amber had one condition: she wanted her employer to give her opportunities to upskill: “I’m a bit cheeky like that but I wanted to keep learning,” she says.
Since then, her career hasn’t stopped pumping.
Naturally curious and keen to explore every opportunity that comes her way, Amber has gained the essentials for great service with ServiceIQ Certificates in Retail (Level 2), (Level 3) and (Level 4), and she’s put her career into top gear with her promotion into senior management last year.
“I never saw myself working in a service station, but this job has changed my life,” says Amber.
Her role involves leading all staff in Z Energy’s ‘Litmos’ online training which includes health and safety and “everything people need to know to work at one of our stations”.
She’s also responsible for getting staff up to speed in expert service and supervision by helping to upskill them on-job in ServiceIQ’s nationally recognised qualification programmes in retail, hospitality and management.
As training specialist, Amber is excited to be developing opportunities for staff from all walks of life and aged anywhere between 18 to 65.
“Age is no barrier. Learning all comes down to attitude. If they want to do it, we’ll get them there,” she says.
Under her watch, over fifty Hattrick Services employees have gained ServiceIQ Certificates in Retail Level 2, Level 3 or Level 4, and others are pursuing higher qualifications on-job.
Amber’s hard work and that of her colleagues contributed to Hattrick Services earning Z Energy’s coveted Investment in People Award.
The nuts and bolts of upskilling so many staff mean she needs to be switched on and ready to help steer people in the right direction every minute of the day.
It can be a bumpy ride behind the training wheel, but being able to make a difference in peoples’ lives is what gets her up in the morning, says Amber.
“It could be a starting point or stepping stone in someone’s life, but you see them a few months down the track and they’ve got a completely different outlook,” she says.
Looking in her rearview mirror at all she’s achieved since school, Amber says pulling into Z Energy has been a career detour full of rewards.
It’s fuelled her ambition to learn and achieve even more.
One day, she might just turn off the highway to pursue her dream job of owning her own interior design business.
Right now though, Amber has another challenge: she’s been nominated for the prestigious ServiceIQ Up & Coming Retailer Award in the 2017 Top Shop Retail Excellence Awards.
Top gear plus.