Industry Advice 26 Oct 2018
Being prepared is being empowered, says Emergency Management Advisor for Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) Ana Faatoia. Ana shares with PCF how her role led her to reconnect with her motherland and making a difference on a regional level.
With natural disasters becoming increasingly frequent in the Pacific region it is the businesses that bear the brunt of its impact. However, businesses in the region are taking action by investing in training workshops that will help them be more resilient before, during and after a natural disaster occurs.
“I hail from the beautiful diamond of Auckland – Manurewa," says Ana, who attributes where she is today to her Samoan parents.
"However it is by way of my hardworking parents who hail from a long list of villages in Upolu and Savaii in Samoa.
“I’ve worn many hats and played different roles, however the common factor has always been ‘to help, to support, to empower people – to make a difference,” she says.
“I’ve always been doing aid work whether it was my involvement with NGOs and my affiliation with my church community. The tsunami that struck Samoa in 2009 is an event that stands out for me because now that I actually work in this space of disaster management, it makes me think of all the major decisions that were made when daily lives were disrupted by a major event.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s something that I always wanted to do, but I am a firm believer in taking each opportunity that is presented to you.”
“Since being ‘exported’ to windy Wellington and taking up this role, I appreciate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, it’s connected me to a wider community.”
Earlier this year, the United States Agency International Development (USAID) approached WREMO for a trainer who would be able to deliver a ‘Business Continuity Planning’ workshops throughout the Pacific.
“Our friends at USAID are currently implementing the ‘Get Ready’ project across a number of Pacific nations. The aim of this programme is to provide resources that supports sustainable, thriving and resilient communities”
“One of their offerings was to provide a Business Continuity Planning workshop for collectives of the private sector. Following some liaison with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), USAID made a request to WREMO for a trainer and that’s when I was assigned the opportunity.”
“I’ve conducted the workshops in Ba, Fiji and Samoa collaborating with plenty of people and groups”
“During the workshops we plan, note down key areas of information to follow up and consider the well-being of staff.”
“We also discuss the likelihood of a business relocating. When you are constantly hammered with cyclones along the coast or flooding due to rising sea levels, then you do begin to question whether operating a business in a hazardous area is feasible in the long-term.”
“Our Pacific communities are naturally resilient considering the many cyclone seasons they have encountered or larger scale events that have devastated their businesses, however our people should start having conversations about their business resilience plans now rather than later.”
Although Ana realises the huge responsibility and task that comes with her role, she looks up to her mother who she says is her motivation to push through.
“It’s important to me to bring empathy, empowerment, courage and passion in my role. Those are the attributes that remind me of my mother (Telesia Tominiko) and help me to stay grounded in this sort of work.”
“It has been a fantastic year and having the opportunity to do these workshops has allowed me to go back home and give back to communities.”
“However my hope is that these workshops emphasises to the business community in the Pacific the importance of having realistic expectations during and after a major event.”