Our People: Skies to sea

Meet Greg Perano. After 15 years flying Boeing 737’s, Greg is piloting a new vehicle – an LPC straddle. Discover his COVID-motivated journey from airline captain to cargo handler, and hear how he’s settling into his new role.

Tell us about your journey to LPC.

I’d been a captain with Virgin Australia on the Boeing 737 for about 15 years. As a result of COVID-19, Virgin closed its New Zealand bases and laid off all their NZ staff.  After a brief foray into product design and a few temporary jobs, my partner and I both landed positions with LPC.

What do you and your partner do at the Port? 

I’m a cargo handler and my partner Jodie is a marina assistant at Te Ana Marina.

What does your role as cargo handler involve?

I lash or unlash containers on ships and install twist locks on containers as they’re loaded and unloaded. But mostly I drive a straddle. That involves shuffling containers around the patch, onto trucks, trains or the crane.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The port environment. With its massive ships, 700-ton cranes, straddles, trains and trucks, what’s not to like?

What’s been the most surprising part of the job for you?

How difficult it was initially to drive the straddle. The driver’s seat is 13 meters up, you sit sideways, have eight-wheel steering and it weighs 100 tons when fully loaded! You have to be extremely accurate, methodical and careful not to damage anything.

How have you found the rest of the port workforce?

Great. Everybody just gets out there and gets the job done, all hours of the day or night and in any weather. Some people think the port is full of your classic wharfies, but it has moved on from that. I’ve found it to be a really positive work environment with some very capable people.

Any words of wisdom for those considering a career change?

Mine wasn’t a brave move about pursuing a lifelong dream. It was a situation that was dropped on us and we just had to deal with it. But LPC has been a good place to land. It offers a diverse range of jobs and career paths, so you can make it as interesting and challenging as you want it to be.

Subscribe for the latest Port news